Blackhawk graduate Brendan McKay didn’t disappoint in his major league debut Saturday.
Given an audition with the Tampa Bay Rays, McKay took a perfect game into the sixth inning and wound up throwing six shutout innings, giving up only one hit and one walk while striking out three. He earned the victory as the Rays prevailed 5-2 over the Texas Rangers.
McKay, the No. 4 overall draft pick in 2017, threw 81 pitches, 55 for strikes. He retired the first 16 batters he faced before Danny Santana singled with one out in the sixth.
Tim Federowicz followed by sacrificing Santana to second, then Shin-Soo Choo walked. But McKay struck out Delino DeShields to end the threat.
McKay walked off the field to a standing ovation.
“It was fun to watch,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Certainly set a pretty high bar for himself. Just the way he carried himself, it was kind of unflappable.”
The 23-year-old also made a nifty defensive play in the second when he caught Joey Gallo’s foul ball near third base with the Rays having four defenders in the outfield and three infielders on the first-base side of second.
“You’re living a dream and doing something that not many people get to do,” McKay said. “To fulfill your life-long dream of playing in the major leagues, it’s awesome.”
A couple dozen family members and friends, including his parents, were among the announced crowd of 16,655.
“He’s got good stuff and he can execute,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “He looked like a pretty calm guy.”
McKay is scheduled to pitch again Friday night against the AL East-leading New York Yankees, who have a seven-game lead over the Rays. The day before McKay’s debut, Cash said the left-hander would “get a couple of times through the rotation.”
Cash also said McKay, who was a two-way player at Louisville, could get a chance to hit.
Prior to being called up, McKay was 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA at Triple-A Durham.
In Saturday’s win, Avisail Garcia homered for the Rays, who won for the fourth time in 12 games. Texas had a season-high six-game winning streak snapped.
Jose Alvarado, who rejoined the Rays on Friday after being gone from the team since June 2 to be with his ailing mother, was one of three relievers who completed a five-hitter. He allowed one run and one hit in the ninth.
The Rays took a 3-0 lead in the second when Joey Wendle had an RBI double, and Garcia, mired in an 0-for-17 slide, hit a two-run homer off Adrian Sampson (6-5).
Sampson allowed three runs and five hits in six innings.
Willy Adames and Travis d’Arnaud hit consecutive homers in the seventh off Pete Fairbanks to make it 5-0. Adames has 10 homers, with the first nine coming on the road.
Texas got on the board in the eighth when Asdrubal Cabrera, hitless in his previous 21 at-bats, doubled and later scored on Oliver Drake’s wild pitch.