Boss Skaggs: Rookie shines in MLB debut

Boss Skaggs: Rookie shines in MLB debut

Boss Skaggs: Rookie shines in MLB debut
PHOENIX -- In 69 Minor League starts, Tyler Skaggs never walked five batters in an outing.

But in his much-anticipated big league debut Wednesday afternoon, the highly touted D-backs prospect gave out five free passes, which typically acts as smoke for impending fire, especially for young pitchers.

As it turned out, however, Skaggs worked seamlessly in and out of jams throughout his start, showcasing his composure -- to go along with some unusual advice from his teammates.

Tossing 6 2/3 innings of strong work, Skaggs made his debut a memorable one, as the D-backs took the opening game of the day-night doubleheader, 3-2, vs. the Marlins at Chase Field.

"It was pretty nerve-wracking, but I thought I did a good job," Skaggs said. "Trust me, everybody is going to have nerves. Once you get that first pitch out of the way, though, you feel a lot better.

"I have to cut the walks down -- way too many."

Skaggs only allowed three hits, but the walks upped his pitch count and forced his exit. He left after allowing just two earned runs and striking out four. His sweeping 12-to-6 curveball had a low speed of 74 mph, while his fastball peaked at 93.

"He was really good," D-backs catcher Miguel Montero said. "He had the walks, but other than that I thought we threw the ball really well.

"I thought he dominated, pretty much. I didn't see many comfortable swings [from Miami]. I'm pretty excited with what I see. He's got a really good presence on the mound. He's got a bright future. He's going to be really good."

The only runs Skaggs allowed came on a two-run homer off the center-field wall by Justin Ruggiano in the second inning to tie the game at 2.

"Coming from [Triple-A] Reno, you become accustomed to giving up your fair share of home runs," Skaggs said. "You have to brush it off and have a short memory."

The 21-year-old settled down after surrendering the big fly until he ran into trouble again in the sixth. The lefty walked the first two batters of the inning before inducing a double play and a fly out to work his way out of the jam unscathed.

"He's got good stuff and he was very composed," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He moved on very quickly. He did a very good job, very mature. He wants to shut them out, but ultimately we're trying to win. He did his job. He did a heck of a job."

The double play Skaggs induced came off the bat of Carlos Lee after a meeting on the mound during which D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt joined in.

"It's funny, Goldschmidt was right there and I asked how he would pitch this guy and he said to throw inside," Skaggs said. "I did and it worked. I'm going with his word from now on. It was huge and it was a momentum changer."

An inning later, when Skaggs exited the game with two outs in the seventh, the crowd at Chase Field rose to applaud the rookie's effort.

"It was phenomenal, the greatest feeling I've ever had in my life so far," Skaggs said. "I learned I can pitch up here. [There are] still a lot of things to work on. It's a stepping stone. It's a dream come true."

The win marked a rare victory for the D-backs in games decided by one run. Entering Wednesday, the club held a 9-18 record in such contests.

Aaron Hill and Gerardo Parra combined to deliver all the run support Skaggs needed throughout the afternoon. The duo each collected a pair of hits and scored all three runs for the club.

Just like Tuesday night, Hill put the D-backs on the board first Wednesday afternoon, this time with a two-run blast in the first inning into the left-field bullpen after Parra singled to lead off the frame, giving the club with another early lead.

After the Marlins tied the score, Hill drove in the winning run in the third inning with his second hit of the day -- an RBI single, scoring Parra.

"I told [Hill] he was going to sit the next game -- not anymore," Gibson joked. "He's been so steady for us all year. He's one of the first guys at the park every day. He was excited about playing two games today."

Brad Ziegler recorded the final out of the seventh inning before David Hernandez and J.J. Putz closed the door on the Marlins in the final two innings of the game to secure the win for Skaggs.

"I wasn't going to let him get the loss," Gibson said. "I decided to go that way to the bullpen. It was a great win."

Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.