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Walton Grad Makes Big-League Debut

Detroit Tiger Luke Putkonen escapes two bases-loaded jams before giving up two runs to the New York Yankees.

grad Luke Putkonen made his major-league pitching debut Sunday afternoon, and the Detroit Tigers didn’t make it easy for the 25-year-old East Cobber.

Putkonen, , entered the game in Yankee Stadium in the fifth inning with the Tigers down 3-1, two outs, bases loaded, and Yankee center fielder Curtis Granderson, who hit his eighth homer of the year an inning earlier, at the plate.

Former Brave Andruw Jones was on third. Eric Chavez was on second. All-time Yankee hits leader Derek Jeter was on first. Alex Rodriguez was on deck. More than 43,000 people roared in the stands.

No sweat.

After missing with a change-up, Putkonen got Granderson to ground out to second on a 94-mph fastball, according to the official Major League Baseball play-by-play.

End of inning. Threat averted.

Putkonen created his own bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth but again escaped unscathed.

He got Rodriguez to ground out to shortstop on the first pitch of the inning, gave up a single to center to Robinson Cano, induced Mark Teixeira to fly out to left, surrendered an infield single to Jones, then walked Raul Ibanez on five pitches.

That brought Chavez to the plate. Putkonen jumped ahead 1-2 on three consecutive fastballs, then got out of the inning when Chavez grounded out to first on a curveball.

Putkonen came back out for the seventh inning with the Tigers trailing 3-2, but the right-hander’s luck ran out.

Chris Stewart led off with a single, and Jeter walked when Putkonen missed with a 3-2 change-up.

He got ahead of Granderson with two fastballs for strikes, but the Yankee fouled off three pitches and battled to a 3-2 count before flying out to center on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.

Rodriguez batted against Putkonen for the second time with runners on second and third, and again the count went full before Rodriguez hit a ground ball to shortstop Ramon Santiago, who failed to throw out Stewart at the plate.

That was the end of Putkonen’s day. Collin Balester came in, gave up a sacrifice fly to score Jeter, then got Teixeira to line out. The Yankees went on to win, 6-2.

Putkonen’s final line in his Tigers debut: 1 2/3 innings, 52 pitches topping out at 95 mph, 11 batters, three hits, two walks, two runs (both earned), no decision and a 10.80 ERA.

Spinman May 01, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Hey, the box score might look bad but the kid pitched lights out in his first MLB game. He will do just fine and his ERA will steadily drop. Good for him. Welcome to the Big Leagues! He's a keeper.

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