In Game 2 of the KC Royals doubleheader on Wednesday night against Boston, the Royals had two players make their Major League debuts.
First, it was utility man Whit Merrifield, who started in left field and batted ninth against Red Sox ace David Price (wearing number 15). It took one of my favorite players 683 minor league games and a career .274 batting average to finally get called up.
It just so happened that he made his big league debut against his former college teammate, Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr (who is having himself a great start to the 2016 season with a 24-game hitting streak).
Merrifield stepped to the plate for the first time as a big leaguer in the 3rd inning with one on and no outs. He flied out to JBJ in center. With Paulo Orlando on base once again in the fifth, Merrifield singled to left field off Price for his first big league hit.
Merrifield struck out against Price in the eighth to lead off the inning (his final at-bat).
Next up was right-hander Alec Mills, who was added to the Royals roster via the 26th man for the doubleheader (wearing number 63). While I didn’t think he would actually get into one of the games unless there was a blowout, I was pleasantly surprised.
Mills made the long trot in from the Royals bullpen to start the 8th inning of Game 2, down 4-1. The first Red Sox to face him was Josh Rutledge, who walked on five pitches. JBJ then singled to put runners on the corners. Up came Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez, who drove in a run via a ground out (which was challenged).
After a one pitch out (Brock Holt popped up on the infield), Mills hit Mookie Betts and walked Xander Bogaerts on four pitches to end his debut.
Chien-Ming Wang had the task of facing David Ortiz with the bases loaded and induced a ground out to end the inning (three pitches).
Mills’ debut was uncharacteristic of his career so far: he is a strike-throwing machine. He has walked just six in 42 innings at Double-A NW Arkansas this season, but walked two in 2/3 of an inning in the big leagues. Mills threw just nine of his 21 pitches for strikes. Obviously, he was nervous and he stated after the game that it was “nerve-wracking”.
Mills was sent back to the Naturals following the game and hopefully he gets back into the groove in their rotation. Fingers crossed that he gets himself back up to Kansas City in the near future and shows them how he really can pitch.