Successful Debut Retiring All Four Batters Faced
Kirby Yates was asleep in Durham North Carolina when he heard a bang at his door at 1:30 a.m. His first thought is who is banging at my door at 1:30 in the morning but on the other side of that door was the good news that he was being called up to Tampa. The messengers eagerly waiting to give him the good news was his manager Charlie Montoya and his pitching coach Neil Allen who happen to live in the same apartment complex.
“It got pretty emotional, it was a cool feeling.” Yates said. “I think I got all of the emotion – most of the emotion – out last night which was great.”
He entered the game running on about 2.5 to 3.o hours of sleep with the bases empty two out and the Rays trailing 7-2 in the top of the seventh inning. “I was not as nervous as I thought I would be. I kind of enjoyed it. It was happy, gratifying, and all that.” Yates said. “You get on the mound, you look around- thought I’d be nervous but wasn’t. I was just out there having fun and enjoying every minute of it.”
The first batter he’d face was Cole Gillespie who had hit his first home run of the season off Alex Cobb in the second inning. He pounded the strike zone and got him to ground out to Evan Longoria to register his first career out.
He came back out to work the eighth inning and struck out Brad Miller leading off the inning for his first career strikeout. He would retire the side in order capping it off by striking out Endy Chavez.
The 27 year old was born n Lihue, Hawaii and becomes the 39th major league player born in Hawaii to reach the majors and the first in Rays history. The only two other Rays pitchers to record as many outs without allowing a base runner in their major league debuts were Chad Orvella (1.2 IP May 31, 2005 vs Oakland) and C.J.Riefenhauser (1.1 IP April 19, 2014 vs Yankees).
It was a typical outing for Yates who dominated while with the Durham Bulls where he had appeared in 21 games carried an ERA of 0.36 (1ER/25IP) while striking out 35 and walking 9. He was 16 for 16 in save opportunities.
In a weekend where the Major League draft is billed as a collection of tomorrows stars there are guys like Yates. Drafted out of high school by the Boston Red Sox in the 26th round of the 2006 draft he chose to attend Yavapai (Ariz.) Junior College.
He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007 and did not return to pitch until 2008. The Rays signed him as an undrafted free agent in June of 2009.
About the adversity Yates said, “You just have to put your head down and keep going. There’s nothing else to do. You know you want to be here and the only way to do it is just keep going. I’ve done it my whole career and don’t see why I would stop.” Yates continued, “It’s just a message for everybody you get an opportunity you just have to run with it. Do your best and work hard. You never know what can happen.”