Being a pitcher in the MLB is a tough job, but Cincinnati Reds rookie Lyon Richardson felt the job's difficulty differently in his major league debut performance against the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
The Reds called up Richardson to make his starting debut on Sunday while optioning reliever Daniel Duarte to Triple-A. Getting called up to the majors is a big moment for any player, but Richardson missed his entire 2022 season due to Tommy John surgery, highlighting a long road back to full health for the young pitcher.
Facing the Nationals, who score 4.35 runs per game (19th in the league), Richardson had his "welcome to big league" moment.
Leading off the top of the first inning was Nationals shortstop CJ Abrams. Heading into the year, he had ten home runs, and on the very first pitch, he sent a fastball into deep right field for a home run. Then, Nationals outfielder Lane Thomas came to the plate.
In the clip below, you'll see what happened.
TALK ABOUTTA 1, 2 PUNCH
CJ Abrams and Lane Thomas go back-to-back on the 1st two pitches of the game. pic.twitter.com/OwZJ0AFW8W
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 6, 2023
Reds, Nationals Players React to Richardson's MLB Debut
Remember, this is Richardson's first start, and his first two major league pitches were both home runs. Ouch.
This was Abrams' 11th home run and Thomas' 19th on the season.
"As the leadoff hitter, I'm looking fastball," Abrams said. "I got one middle up and put a good swing on it."
"It was cool to put another good swing behind him," Thomas added.
"We got off to a great start," Washington manager Dave Martinez said. "Two pitches, two runs. Those two are catalysts for us. They've been consistent in getting us going. They've been doing well for us all year. CJ and Lane are doing the job for us."
Per Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time a pitcher allowed two home runs on his first two pitches in his debut performance though the database only dates back to 1999. According to the Twitter account OptaSTATS, it was the first time an MLB pitcher has started his career with back-to-back home runs on his first two career pitches over the last 50 seasons.
Over the last 50 seasons, Lyon Richardson of the Reds is the only pitcher to allow a home run on each of the first two pitches of his MLB career.
— OptaSTATS (@OptaSTATS) August 6, 2023
How did Richardson react to this?
"I didn't think I made that bad of a pitch," Richardson said. "I might have missed a little bit more middle than I wanted to. I think he was just ready for a heater and hit it.
"I don't think I'd redo it. I was just thinking that I had to get myself dialed in and get a few outs here. There is always nerves but I do a pretty good job of managing it. It wasn't necessarily the nerves that got the pitches hit. It was me."
That's a positive outlook and Reds manager David Bell feels similar.
"It was an unfortunate way to start the game and major league career," Reds manager David Bell said. "He has a long one ahead of him and just the way he was able to keep pitching and hold it together for three innings, really says a lot about him. It is a tough way to start, I mean, you get off to a rough start like that in your debut. We've seen guys back away. We've known that about Lyon. He was given an opportunity there to demonstrate who he is and why he's going to be so good."
It's safe to say we're all looking forward to a bounceback performance from Richardson after a tough outing. He went three innings, allowing four runs on four hits with two strikeouts and three walks. The Reds dropped to 59-55 on the season, with the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs now neck-and-neck with them in the NL Central.
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