After making 532 major league appearances as a reliever, Jerry Blevins made his debut as a starter Sunday afternoon.
With Jason Vargas scratched after being placed on the 10-day disabled list Saturday, Blevins found out upon his arrival to Citi Field on Sunday that he would start in the final game of the three-game series, an 8-7 11-inning loss to the Dodgers.
“[Manager Mickey Callaway] explained to me the situation and I said, ‘I’d love to, man. Whatever helps the team,’” Blevins said. “I felt like I’m almost 35 years old, it’s the perfect time to transition to a starting rotation.”
There definitely were better ways for Blevins’ first start to go as he allowed back-to-back solo home runs to Kiké Hernandez and Max Muncy, the first two batters of the game.
“I’m thinking, ‘I can’t start this game off with a walk,’ you know? I make sure I throw a strike and Kiké crushed it,” Blevins said. “The next one, I thought Muncy — I thought that was a pop-up to left field and the ball carried.
“I figured I’d give [Dominic Smith] a chance to rob a home run in left field. He showed that his vertical leap is not quite up to par, but I thought that it wasn’t a bad pitch.”
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Blevins is just the second pitcher since 1900 to allow home runs to the first two batters he faced in his first career start. The other was Don Hendrickson in 1945.
Blevins said he felt settled in after the first hitter and attempted to argue his way into pitching a third inning, but was ultimately replaced by Tim Peterson.
“I give credit to the bullpen today, it’s a hard task to do,” said Kevin Plawecki, who tied the game in the eighth with a three-run homer to left-center field. “I don’t know from their standpoint how they feel, but I mean I’m sure it’s a tough task. So credit to them, they kept us in the game.”
The biggest challenge to overcome for Blevins was the timing of his day. He struggled with when to warm up, when the anthem was set to be played, and the time of the first pitch.
“It’s a little bit different,” he said. “Waiting for another guy to get off the mound was a little strange. You adapt and you do what you can.”
Ultimately Blevins was pleased with his team’s resiliency as well as his own. He repeatedly stated that “it was just pitching,” and in baseball dealing with timing issues is a part of the game.
“I didn’t want to put my team behind with the first two hitters, but we battled and our offense showed that they can put up runs when need be,” Blevins said. “Apart from that, we battled and unfortunately were on the losing end.”