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Cubs rookie pitcher turns heads with ‘unbelievable’ MLB debut

1 month agoTony Andracki

Porter Hodge had some time to wait.

On Friday morning, he was called up to the major leagues for the first time in his young career but didn’t see action all weekend in the Cubs’ series against the Pirates.

Monday represented an off-day for his team and when Tuesday came along, the Cubs found themselves in a tight, extra-inning affair with the Braves and Hodge once again was left in the bullpen.

But Wednesday night when he finally received his chance to pitch, the 23-year-old righty made it worth the wait.

Hodge mowed down the heart of the Braves order, striking out Ozzie Albies, Marcell Ozuna and Matt Olson on 10 pitches. He ended up a lone pitch away from an immaculate inning.

“Man, Porter was unbelievable,” Ian Happ said. “Just in the zone, filling it up. The fastball’s pretty unique and to make it through that part of the lineup with that dominance is pretty cool to see.”

Hodge threw all fastballs, clocked between 95-96 mph. Ozuna and Olson had homered earlier in the evening and each player has earned MVP votes in 3 separate seasons (including Olson finishing 4th last year).

That level of dominance against these types of hitters gives Hodge confidence moving forward.

“Just knowing how good my stuff is and where everything plays,” he said. “Staying up in the zone, staying true to my stuff.”

Hodge became the first Cubs reliever to strike out all 3 batters he faced in his MLB debut since Todd Wellemeyer turned the trick in May 2003.

[WATCH: Hodge breaks down his MLB debut]

He admitted he was anxious the first few days in the big leagues, but eventually settled in and found a way to patiently wait for his opportunity.

Hodge had family in the crowd at Wrigley Wednesday night and acknowledged his heart was pounding for the debut.

He got to keep the ball from his first strikeout (Albies) and plans to put it in a case for safe keeping.

Hodge wasn’t the only rookie to make his MLB debut during the Cubs’ 9-2 loss. Luis Vázquez also saw his first action after being called up Tuesday.

Vázquez struck out in his lone plate appearance in the 9th and played an inning at shortstop — though he did not receive any opportunities to field a ball because Hodge didn’t even let a Braves batter touch a pitch.

“Yeah, that was fun to watch,” Counsell said. “It was exciting for a couple kids making their major league debuts. Porter was awesome.”

Happ gave special notice to the fans in attendance for honoring the moment.

“Wrigley does such a good job and the fans here do such a good job,” Happ said. “They put the MLB debut on the board and we’re down 9-2 and people are on their feet, excited for it. It’s just the cool part about the fans here and they understand the game, they know what it means.”

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