At 3:20 PM on Wednesday, Tyler Skaggs hadn’t yet checked his cell phone for congratulatory text messages and voicemails.
“I had some things going on, so I had to, uh, take a shower,” Skaggs said with a smirk on his face while talking to reporters at his locker following the Diamondbacks 3-2 win over the Marlins.
Skaggs, who turned 21 last month, was alluding to a beer shower ritual — something veteran teammates give rookies after a successful first performance. For Skaggs, it was well-deserved.
With a depleted bullpen from the Marlins’ offensive assaults the previous two days, the Diamondbacks were leaning on the left-handed debutant to go deep in game one of the first ever day-night doubleheader at Chase Field. And Skaggs did just that, holding a team that had 35 hits in its previous two games to just three hits, two runs, in 6.2 innings of work. The performance was good for the second-longest debut by a Diamondbacks pitcher in franchise history.
Skaggs, a Los Angeles native, was drafted by the Angels in the supplemental first round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft. And, exactly a year later, he was traded to the Diamondbacks along with lefties Patrick Corbin and Joe Saunders and right-handed pitcher Rafael Rodriguez in exchange for Dan Haren.
Last year, Skaggs was named the Diamondbacks 2011 Organization Pitcher of the Year and he started for the United States team in the 2011 All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field.
But it was his Major League debut Wednesday that fulfilled a lifelong dream.
And it was the standing ovation he received from the 17,239 gathered at Chase Field as he exited in the seventh inning of Wednesday afternoon’s game that was the greatest moment of his life.
“It was phenomenal,” Skaggs said of the ovation. “It was the greatest feeling I’ve ever had in my whole life.”
The crowd, which included thirty of Skaggs’ relatives and friends, weren’t the only ones elated with the pitcher’s performance.
“It was a great win,” Diamondbacks Manager Kirk Gibson said after the game, “Six and two-thirds (innings) is great.”
A smiling Miguel Montero felt the same.
“I’m pretty excited with what I see,” Montero said, bragging on Skaggs’ presence on the mound and general composure. “I think he’s a really good pitcher, man. I see a bright future (in him).”
At the acme of Skaggs’ debut was the coaxing of Carlos Lee into a groundball double play in the sixth inning, which followed back-to-back walks to Donovan Solano and Jose Reyes.
“It was funny,” Skaggs told of the double play. “(Paul) Goldschmidt was right there and I was like, ‘How would you pitch to this guy?'”
“Throw it inside to him,” Goldschmidt recommended, according to Skaggs, who took the suggestion, who stranded five Marlins base runners on the day.
Earlier in the day, Goldschmidt and Skaggs worked together to pickoff Reyes, the Marlins’ speedy shortstop — a play that ended the third inning.
And in the fifth inning, Skaggs struck out the Marlins’ side.
“I’m excited,” Montero said in closing, “I’m excited to see him all year.”
Headed into Wednesday afternoon’s game, the Diamondbacks were desperate for pitching. An underachieving Marlins lineup laid 35 hits and 19 runs on them in the two days prior.
Their newest pitcher gave them just that.