Bubba Starling finally made his MLB Debut for the Royals. Starling was drafted in 2011 from Gardner-Edgerton High School in Gardner, Kansas. His road to the majors was a long and tough one but many Royals fans can now celebrate his arrival.
Starling started in center field for the Royals and hit seventh. As Crazy Train roared in the background, the crowd at Kauffman Stadium got on their feet and cheered. The first pitch Starling saw in the majors was from Spencer Turnbull of the Tigers. The 93-mph fastball was just off the plate outside. Turnbull avoided an ambush on the second pitch throwing a 1-0 slider that missed off the plate as well. Starling took a 94-mph fastball high and away to make the count 3-0. After a 94-mph fastball nicked the corner, Starling took ball four for a walk. Nicky Lopez followed it up with a high chopping single putting Starling on second. Martin Maldonado hit a soft grounder that the Tigers couldn’t turn into a double play to end the inning. The ball bounced away from Brandon Dixon of the Tigers and Starling sprinted home scoring his first major league run giving the Royals a 2-1 lead.
In his second at bat, Turnbull started Starling out with a slider away for ball one. The count went 2-0 when the next pitch missed away. A curve for a strike and a slider away put the count at 3-1. Starling fouled off the next pitch and chase the full count slider off the plate to strike out.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Starling would make his next at bat. The score was tied at 5-5 and he faced LHP Gregory Soto. Starling fouled off a 96-mph fastball on the first pitch. The second pitch was 95 and strike two. Soto threw a hard slider below the zone and Starling took it for ball one. Starling fouled off a fastball and hit a 96-mph fastball on one hop to Tiger shortstop Jordy Mercer.
With the Royals up 8-5, Starling came up for his last at bat in the bottom of the eighth. After a first pitch slider against Jose Cisnero, Starling hit a 94-mph fastball at Mercer again.
Even though Starling didn’t get his first major league hit, he did walk and score his first major league run. Starling also enjoyed a huge ovation for his first at bat and his call up has created a buzz around Kansas City. The Royals had their biggest walk up crowd at Kauffman Stadium this season and can expect more of that going forward.
Picture taken from BleacherReport.com’s 2011 MLB Draft Report card article.