With two runs in and the tying run on first, Sturdevant came in and struck out Adeiny Hechavarria and got pinch-hitter Chris Johnson to bounce out to third to squelch the rally and preserve Tampa Bay's one-run lead.
"It's kind of surreal, honestly," Sturdevant said. "It was exciting."
Still, Sturdevant was able to keep his composure in a very difficult situation.
"The game didn't change," he said. "You still have to make pitches to get outs. I was locked in. I was locked in from the time I went to the bullpen. I was just going out there to try and make pitches and really just try to get ground balls. It was fantastic."
Sturdevant said it was almost how he dreamed it.
"I was very happy with the results," he said. "Best outing of my life. I'm really happy."
It was only after the debut that Sturdevant was able to take in the significance of it all.
"Afterwards [manager Kevin] Cash came and shook my hand," he said. "I was able to just take a deep breath and just kind of enjoy it."
Sturdevant was selected from Triple-A Durham on Monday. Per Elias, at 30 years and 156 days, he is the oldest player to make his MLB debut with the Rays since 31-year-old Jason Childers did in 2006, and the second oldest since lefty Jim Morris (35 in 1999).
Sturdevant was 1-0 with a 1.56 ERA in 14 appearances over 17 1/3 innings with Durham. Eleven of his last 12 appearances in the Minors were scoreless, dating back to April 14. Sturdevant came to Tampa Bay with a 2.74 ERA over parts of seven Minor League seasons.
The Rays signed Sturdevant as a free agent last Nov. 20, and he was a non-roster invitee to Spring Training. He spent his first six Minor League seasons with the Indians organization.
Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com based in Miami. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.