Tejay Antone took the mound for the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night against the Chicago Cubs. For Antone it’s a lifetime of work leading to a dream, but it didn’t come in the most ideal situation. When the right-handed pitcher stepped onto the mound his team was trailing 6-0 and it was just the 2nd inning.
The game for Tejay Antone started with a 96 MPH fastball for a called strike. The next pitch hit Willson Contreras in the elbow. He came back and got Steven Souza to fly out to Phillip Ervin in center field to record his first out and end the inning. In the 3rd inning Antone worked around a walk of Albert Almora and picked up the first strikeout of his big league career on a 97 MPH comeback fastball to David Bote.
In the 4th inning he had to work around a Freddy Galvis error, but took care of Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Willson Contreras. It was more of the same in the top of the 5th as Souza and Bote went down on strikes before a ground out to Joey Votto ended the inning. It was the 6th inning that finally saw the Cubs get to Antone as Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer with two outs before Javier Baez lined out to third.
David Bell went to the bullpen for the 7th, ending the night for Tejay Antone, who from a personal performance standpoint, couldn’t have asked for much better of a Major League debut. The 26-year-old allowed one run on one hit and one walk in 4.1 innings while striking out five batters. He would throw 69 pitches with 42 strikes and generate five ground outs with just two fly ball outs.
Here’s the breakdown of his pitches according to the Statcast data.
|Pitch||Avg MPH||Top MPH||Strikes||Balls||SwingK|
The velocity and movement on the fastball by Tejay Antone was impressive. At times he was throwing 97-98 MPH fastballs that had comeback action on them and leaving Cubs hitters standing there looking confused. The breaking ball, sans the one that Anthony Rizzo hit to the seats, wasn’t exactly being seen well by the Chicago hitters, either.
While Antone wasn’t on the roster when the season began, with how he looked in his debut, it might be tough to send him back to Prasco Park if he continues to perform the way that he did on Monday night.
Manager David Bell on Tejay Antone
“How about Antone and the way he pitched and kept us in the game? Unbelievable job his first time out, his Major League debut,” said Bell. “We lost the game, but it would be completely unfair without mentioning what an unbelievable job he did, and Tyler Stephenson in his Major League debut coming out and playing a huge part in almost pulling off a comeback win that we came up short on, and there’s no denying that. But these young players came up big tonight to give us the opportunity.”
“This guy has really stood out to us, to his teammates, to this coaching staff – just how motivated he is,” Bell said after the game of Antone. “Not only to get to the Major Leagues, but to become a great pitcher here. Obviously that was step one. Really what allowed it was all of the work he’s done. He’s a learned, extremely hard worker – he just continues to get better. Tonight we saw a great fastball, but he was able to throw his offspeed pitches – both of them for strikes and to get chases with them. Just confident, and you’d never know this was his first time in the Major Leagues.”
Tejay Antone on his Reds debut
“I saw the first inning was a couple of hiccups and the pitch count was getting up and so I just made myself ready and I stayed ready. Second inning didn’t go as planned for Wade, and I just made myself available. They called down there and said get ready – so I got after it as quick as possible. Adrenaline took over and I got ready a lot faster than I was expecting.”
“DJ (pitching coach Derek Johnson) asked me, I believe in the second inning that I had pitched – I guess when I was through one and a third – hey, how many pitches can you give us? I was like hey, I can go 100 – I went 100 pitches in quarantine and I’m ready to go,” said Antone. “I’ll be in whatever role this team needs me – short, long, starter, whatever – if anything is needed I’ll be ready to go”.
“The first inning, I hit the guy – my first batter – a little nervous right after that, I was like ‘oh gosh, here we go’. Got through that, and in the second inning I struck him out looking and I was like OK, it’s the same game, same distance – nothing changes. I kind of settled in after that was ready to go.”