(Photo credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
The Detroit Tigers' Sawyer Gipson-Long couldn't have asked for a better major-league debut, even though it was a long time in the making.
Now, he'll make the first road start of his major-league career in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels, who seemingly will be without superstar Shohei Ohtani throughout the series.
Gipson-Long (1-0, 3.60 ERA) lasted long enough to qualify for the victory on Sunday in his debut against the Chicago White Sox. He gave up two runs and four hits in five-plus innings. Gipson-Long notched five strikeouts and didn't issue a walk while throwing 73 pitches.
"I told him on the mound, 'Don't let this be anything other than an incredible debut,'" manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's an organizational win for us, but for him, it's a moment he will remember forever."
Gipson-Long settled in quickly, striking out leadoff hitter Tim Anderson.
"Striking out Tim Anderson, that was pretty cool," he said. "Just getting that first one out of the way was awesome but he's a really good hitter and I respect him a lot. He's an All-Star guy. Being able to compete with that kind of player is awesome. I feel really blessed to be able to pitch against these kinds of guys."
Gipson-Long, a 25-year-old right-hander, has racked up 338 minor league innings in a pro career that began in 2019. This season, he pitched a total of 99 2/3 innings for Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo before his callup and was 8-8 with a 4.33 ERA.
"That was a really good day for us and certainly for Sawyer," Hinch said. "What a debut. Getting into the game as clean as possible and going the first time through the order with everything working. I mean no real stress -- other than being a big-leaguer for the first time and fulfilling your dream."
Gipson-Long apparently won't have to face Ohtani, who has missed 11 straight games with a right oblique strain. Already sidelined from his dual role as a pitcher because of a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, Ohtani packed his locker on Friday, MLB.com reported.
The Angels (68-80) said they would have an announcement about Ohtani on Saturday.
But there's still a game to be played for the Angels, who will turn to left-hander Tyler Anderson (6-6, 5.36) to make the start. He's coming off arguably his best performance of the season, giving up two runs and four hits in eight innings against Cleveland on Saturday while collecting his first victory since July 23.
"It was a great performance. He threw a lot of quality pitches and was efficient," manager Phil Nevin said.
Anderson was pleased by the outing.
"I was just happy to throw strikes and get ahead in the count," Anderson said. "It's kind of been the opposite all year. Then the guys played great defense and they were ready to go."
Anderson has won both of his career starts against Detroit while posting a 2.70 ERA.
The Tigers (68-79) had 15 hits while rolling past the Angels 11-2 in the series opener on Friday night.
Javier Baez had a rare big night at the plate with a solo homer and a three-run double. It was just the ninth homer this season for Baez, who hit 31 homers two seasons ago. Spencer Torkelson drove in two runs to increase his team-leading total to 83 RBIs.
--Field Level Media