ST. PETERSBURG — Six years to the day after he was drafted by the Rays, Jacob Faria stood on the mound at Tropicana Field. He had just completed his final warmup pitch before the first inning of Wednesday's game. He paused for a little "me time" and scanned the stadium from foul pole to foul pole.
"This is a big-league stadium, and I'm on the mound right now," Faria remembered thinking to himself. "It was great."
It was an outstanding debut for the rookie right-hander, called up for a spot start to give members of the rotation an extra day of rest. Oh, and if you can stop a four-game losing streak, that would be swell, too.
Faria did just that in the Rays' 3-1 victory against the White Sox.
"Really, overall, an impressive performance coming in for your big-league start," outfielder Steven Souza Jr. said. "Looked like he'd been here for a while."
Faria allowed a run on three hits in 6?. He allowed three hits, walked two and struck out five.
"He didn't back down. He kept going after them," Tim Beckham said. "It was impressive."
Tim Beckham delivered the big hit, a bases-loaded single in the third that scored two. It was the lone hit for the Rays (30-31) in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position, but it was enough.
After allowing two hits and a run to the first three batters he faced, Faria settled in, retiring 12 of the next 13 he faced. "The first inning I was trying to show them, 'Hey, this is what's up.' You don't have to do that. Just going back to being me," Faria said.
A 10th-round pick in the 2011 draft, Faria reached the majors after spending parts of the past two seasons at Triple-A Durham, where he was 6-1 with a 3.07 ERA in 11 starts. His 84 strikeouts led the International League.
He became the eighth pitcher in franchise history to win his major-league debut as a starter, the first since Alex Colome on May 30, 2013.
Manager Kevin Cash was impressed with Faria's ability to pound the strike zone. He didn't try to get White Sox batters to chase.
"He showed zero fear of attacking and getting outs within the zone," Cash said. "That's a big ask to come in and get some of these hitters out."
Faria is on a nice little run the past two weeks. He started by proposing to his girlfriend, Jessica, on the sixth anniversary of the day they met. She said yes.
Then, keeping with the six-year anniversary theme, he warned his first big-league win in his first big-league game.
Faria searched for words when asked how that felt.
"It's tough," he said after a pause. "Usually after a start my leg would be exhausted. I feel like I can keep going, go run a mile right now. I still got a ton of adrenalin going.
"It feels great."