ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 11: Infielder Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays hits a two run home run to win the game against the San Diego Padres at Tropicana Field on May 11, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
In baseball, a guy who can throw a fastball close to 100 miles an hour creates awe. Velocity like that is extremely rare.
So when the Padres gave 23-year-old Burch Smith and his near triple-digit heat their Major League Debut against the Rays on Saturday, we got giddy!
Keep in mind, the kid allowed all of four runs in six starts at Double-A San Antonio And he had a lead before making his first pitch. Chase Headley did Smith a solid with a 2-run home run in the top of the 1st off Rays Starter Jeremy Hellickson.
Then Burch came out and made us believe the hype. He struck out the first two batters he faced, Matt Joyce and Kelly Johnson. One of the pitches he made to Johnson was clocked at 98 miles an hour. Smith worked a perfect first.
But, his second inning was a complete disaster. Burch learned real fast, it doesn't matter how hard you throw, if you put it right down the middle, big leaguers will mash it.
Smith split the plate with a fastball that James Loney turned around for a 424-foot, 2-run home run. It didn't get better from there for the rookie. Smith allowed six runs on five hits without getting an out before Bud Black went and got him.
He took some lumps, but Burch showed his stuff is more than good enough to be successful in the big leagues.
Amazingly, he didn't take the loss, because the Padres actually rallied to take the lead!
In the 7th, San Diego loaded the bases against Hellickson, who's a right-handed pitcher. Left-handed hitting catcher John Baker was due up but Black sent Jesus Guzman in to pinch-hit.
The move worked perfectly.
Guzman ripped a grand slam just fair down the left field line to tie the game at 6. Later in the inning, Carlos Quentin drew a bases loaded walk to put the Padres up 7-6.
However, in the 9th, closer Huston Street made a giant mistake. He walked Ben Zobrist with two outs, bringing All-Star Evan Longoria to the plate.
Street hung a slider and Longoria ripped it 448 feet in to the left-center field seats for a walk-off homer. Rays win 8-7. It's the first blown save of the year for Street.
Tampa Bay goes for the sweep on Sunday.