Tanner Houck got the call Tuesday night to face up against the Miami Marlins, in what was not only his first appearance in the majors but also his first start.
With an arsenal of pitches at his whim, the rookie tossed five scoreless innings surrendering only two hits and three walks. It was the longest and more importantly scoreless debut from a Red Sox pitcher since the 2015 season when Eduardo Rodriguez hurled 7 2/3 against the Texas Rangers.
Houck took the mound befuddling Marlins batters with a swapping setup of a four-seamer, two-seamer, bottom dropping sinker and the money pitch for Houck a swing-wiffing slider.
When he left the game at the end of the 5th in a scoreless tie it seemed destined for a quality start with no-decision. That was until the Sox scored in the Top of the 6th and then the bullpen did something very rare this season, holding it together to net him a victory in his inaugural performance.
Dylan Covey relieved Houck and pitched two perfect innings. Brazier covered the 8th before giving way to Matt Barnes in the 9th, who despite the surrender of a two-out double to Brian Anderson, completed the pitcher committee 4-hit shutout and notched his seventh save of the season.
After the game Houck remarked to the press that, "It was definitely big... This is a moment I look back on for the rest of my life, as time goes on I'll get to appreciate it even more." Houck called the reality of being in the Big Leagues, given how shaky he seemed back in March to end up here saying "The reality is definitely everything I could imagine."
For a squad that sits at 18-31 with just 11 games left in this abbreviated season. Yesterday’s matchup against the Marlins, with a young pitching staff may have just been a glimpse that this really is a long-spring/fall training into a potentially full 162 game season next year that may be more fruitful for the Sox.
As they always say, it’s just one game, but we shall see. This one, for a start, was pretty special.