Eric's debut doesn't disappoint as parents, brothers witness win
By Wilson Alexander
KANSAS CITY -- This time last week, Lennie Skoglund was elated to have his son at home. Royals rookie Eric Skoglund was then pitching for Triple-A Omaha, and the Storm Chasers were in Nashville, Tenn., to face the Sounds.
On Monday, Lennie and the rest of his family received some of the best news of their lives. Eric was going to make his first Major League start against the Tigers on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium. Skoglund was sensational -- firing 6 1/3 scoreless innings in the Royals' 1-0 victory.
Lennie, his wife Cindi, and sons Jordan and Justin, drove eight hours from Nashville to Kansas City to watch the youngest of the three Skoglund brothers -- the one nicknamed "Big League" years earlier -- oppose 2011 American League MVP Justin Verlander. They watched from their third-row seats to the left of the Royals' dugout.
Skoglund's performance came as no surprise to his family. They recognized his intensity and confidence at an early age.
"He did not like to lose against his older brothers," Lennie said. "That really bothered him."
Years later, Skoglund, who's played baseball since he was 4, was selected in the third round of the 2014 Draft by the Royals. On Monday night, Jordan said he FaceTimed with his brother, and they discussed how Skoglund would approach Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera.
"[Eric] said if he got him 0-2, he was going to throw a fastball right by him," Jordan said.
In the fourth inning, Skoglund got Cabrera into an 0-2 count.
"He threw a 93-mph fastball right by him for strike three," Jordan said, smiling. "He's always going to be aggressive."
When Skoglund faced Cabrera again in the sixth inning, the rookie coaxed the veteran into a groundout to shortstop Alcides Escobar after an eight-pitch at-bat. As Eric Hosmer caught the ball at first base, the family jumped out of their seats. Lennie got so excited, he accidentally knocked his Royals cap off.
"It's come full circle," Jordan said. "You get to see him when he's little and now he's here. You always joke about it, but, 'What if you make it? What if you make it?' Now, you're here under the lights in front of 30,000 people."
As Skoglund exited the field with one out in the seventh inning, ending his first start, the Royals' faithful gave him a rousing ovation. Skoglund responded with a wave of his cap. As he did so, Lennie raised both hands in the air in celebration.
The family couldn't be prouder of "Big League."
Wilson Alexander is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.