T.J. Zeuch overcomes nerves to toss solid debut for Jays

Former first-round pick made his first Major League appearance against the Atlanta Braves

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher T.J. Zeuch works against the Atlanta Braves during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, in Atlanta.  (Photo: John Bazemore, AP)

With a promising generation on the horizon for the Toronto Blue Jays, the second road game of the series against the Atlanta Braves set up an exciting scenario for someone who perhaps is part of this future process. 

Right-handed pitcher T. J. Zeuch made his Major League debut Tuesday night at SunTrust Park. 

Despite not truly being part of the constant top prospects-conversation inside the Blue Jays (55-85) organization, the 24-year-old certainly set the bar high for his debut, joining the franchise just two weeks after throwing a no-hitter in Tripe-A Buffalo.

“It was amazing,” said Zeuch, after his first Major career game. “This is something I wanted since I was a kid. It’s been 18 years of hard work and (now) dedication paid off.

“To be honest, I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. I thought my heart would be racing the whole time, but I set back, took the moment, and took a few deep breaths every once in a while to keep myself calm.”

Debuting in the MLB just 10 weeks after his first Triple-A appearance obviously is a different animal though. 

“Maybe the pre-game nerves (is what I will remember the most from his first Blue Jay appearance),” he said. “When I was out there playing catch I was looking around and seeing the size of the stadium, the people.

“Just noticing the differences between here (Major) and Triple-A.”

Zeuch’s first Major League challenge was a tough one, against the National League East-leading Braves (86-54). 

Toronto started the game with Wilmer Font (3-4) on the mound, but the “opener,”, who usually goes without any major damage in his appearances, allowed two runs before Zeuch entered the game in the second inning. 

“I thought I was a little anxious when I got there for my first inning, and then when I got my first out, everything set up from there,” said Zeuch.

Manager Charlie Montoyo agrees with that. 

“He (Zeuch) competed well. He threw strikes, and he was facing a pretty good lineup,” said Montoyo. “He was probably a little bit nervous at the beginning of course, but then he settled down and he pitched well.”

Zeuch finished the game allowing two runs, three hits, and two walks, while striking out four batters in four innings played. 

The 2016 first-round draft pick out of the University of Pittsburgh became the 37th different pitcher used by the Blue Jays in 2019, setting a franchise record.

Both of his earned runs were scored on a fifth-inning double from former Blue Jays Josh Donaldson, who totalled three RBIs in the Braves’ 7-2 win. 

Winning pitcher Mike Foltynewic (5-5) played five innings not allowing a single run, with just two hits and two strikeouts. 

Blue Jays’ batters were quiet, with Rowdy Tellez hitting the team’s only home run of the night, a solo shot in the seventh, his 17th of the season.

Toronto will continue on the road as the team travels to Tampa Bay to face the Rays on Thursday seeking to snap a three-game losing streak, while Atlanta, winners of six straight, faces the Washington Nationals on that same day.

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Posted: Sep 4 2019 12:33 am
Filed under: Baseball Sports