Javier Asaad became the seventh pitcher in Cubs history to go at least four scoreless innings in his debut and can tell his kids & grandkids that 1st ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was his first strikeout victim.
Javier Asaad with translator Will Nadal/ Eugene McIntosh
Javier Asaad did not get the win in his MLB debut but the Tijuana, Mexico native has a day to remember forever in the Cubs 2-0 win over their longtime rival St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the doubleheader. He became the seventh pitcher in Cubs history to go at least four scoreless innings in his debut and can tell his kids & grandkids that 1st ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was his first strikeout victim. "It's something that I never would've imagined. Pujols is a great player. We all know the storied player that he is. I was three years old when he debuted so I never would've imagined that I would've been facing him let alone getting that strikeout," Asaad said.
Javier went 4 innings and only allowed 4 hits. He struck out 3 but did walk 4 batters. None came back to haunt him. He could've easily folded after Lars Nootbaar led off the game with a double to the left field corner and Asaad followed that with a wild pitch that moved Nootbaar to third base. After getting Cardinals left fielder Brendan Donovan to ground out to third, PJ Higgins kept St. Louis scoreless and gave Asaad some much needed aid & assistance with the play of the day.
Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt purposely hit the ball to the right side of the infield thinking he got the job done to score Donovan from third but Higgins baseball IQ was in full effect. He made a quick stab and an even quicker throw to the plate and Yan Gomes made the tag to nail Donovan. Gomes said Higgins continues to impress. "I call him the swiss army knife. He can play anywhere and a player like that's gonna last a long time," he said.
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For Asaad, he said his MLB debut definitely lived up to the hype. "It lived up to what I thought it was gonna be like. It was something I was really excited for. I was just anxious to get out there and perform. The fanbase when I was out there warming up and throwing, they were loud and into it and I was just excited to be out there and try to pitch," Asaad said. It was just another day in the life of a guy trying to make it to THE BIGS (pun intended) when he found out he was getting the call up. "I was about to get breakfast. I was at the hotel with my wife and we were just gonna go out to eat and then I started to get notifications and I was seeing that I was gonna get called up. It's something that's really exciting and something I can't put into words or emotions. It's something I've been working hard for. Seven years in this organization & the hard work is paying off.
The Cubs bullpen did a great job holding it down for Asaad as Michael Rucker, Sean Newcomb, Erich Uelmen and Brandon Hughes combined for 5 innings of one hit baseball. The Cubs recorded their 10th shutout of the season and are 12-6 in their last 18 games. Cubs starters have a 2.83 ERA (54 earned runs in 172 innings pitched) since July 16 and the staff as a whole have held their opponents to a 2.69 ERA (89 earned runs on 297.1 innings pitched) which is the second lowest ERA in MLB in that span.
*Willson Contreras woke up with left ankle stiffness and is not in the lineup for game 2 but is available off the bench*