ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Former Mets prospect Anthony Kay, a Ward Melville graduate, delivered a strong outing for the Toronto Blue Jays in his major league debut on Saturday.
The 24-year-old lefthander, acquired from the Mets in the Marcus Stroman trade on July 28, gave up four hits, walked three and struck out eight in 5 2/3 innings in the Blue Jays’ 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Kay’s eight strikeouts in his debut tied a Blue Jays record. He got a no-decision.
“He’s a bulldog on the mound. He pitches inside, he changes speeds. He did a great job,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said. “Eight strikeouts against a good lineup. He was awesome. I wanted to say ‘wow’ and he was wow.”
“It hasn’t sunk in fully yet,” Kay said. “Just having my friends and family here, I think, makes it the most special. It was really cool.”
Kay became the 19th starting pitcher used by the Blue Jays this season, tied for second most in American League history behind the 24 used in 1915 by the Philadelphia Athletics.
Consecutive singles by Avisail Garcia, Tommy Pham and Austin Meadows produced Tampa Bay’s first run off Kay in the fourth inning, and the rookie walked in another run. But Kay struck out Kevin Kiermaier and Mike Zunino with the bases loaded, thwarting a possible big inning.
With the score 3-3 in the eighth, Jordan Romano walked Rays pinch hitter Ji-Man Choi, Kiermaier doubled and pinch hitter Travis d’Arnaud delivered a sacrifice fly. Daniel Robertson, who had tied it with an RBI double in the seventh, added an RBI single.
“He’s probably had more downs than ups to this point,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said of Robertson, “but like we’ve said to everybody: You’re here, you’re here to help us win and you can kind of forget the [first] five months of the season. We’ve put ourselves in position for the sixth month now. It’s all hands on deck.”