Mets pitcher Tyler Jay (74) delivers during the ninth inning...

Mets pitcher Tyler Jay (74) delivers during the ninth inning inning against Atlanta, Thursday, April 11, 2024, in Atlanta.  Credit: AP/Mike Stewart

ATLANTA — Eight days shy of his 30th birthday, Mets lefthander Tyler Jay made his major-league debut Thursday, a new climax to his baseball life that he for years thought was all but over.

He tossed the final two innings of a 16-4 win over Atlanta, allowing one run on five hits. He struck out one — Matt Olson to end the game — and walked one. His teammates awarded him the championship belt as pitcher of the game.

The details barely mattered, though. Jay made it. The sixth-overall draft pick by the Twins in 2015, Jay received his first promotion to the majors Wednesday, when the Mets needed a rested reliever.

“I’m still processing it a little bit,” an emotional Jay said. “It was crazy. It was incredible. I think after the first couple of pitches, I settled down a little bit. I’m like OK, it’s just baseball. It’s 60 feet, 6 inches. But yeah, it was everything I could ask for.”

A rainout for his would-be first game as an active player allowed his anticipation to build — and allowed his guests to arrive for the big moment. His group in the stands when he took the mound included his wife, Allie, as well as his mother, stepfather and a cousin.

Not in the stands: his 4-month-old daughters. Yes, the former Twin had twins. They were at home in the Chicago area, but rest assured: They will hear this story.

“They get to know Dad never quit,” Jay said. “Which means a lot to me. It definitely means a little bit more nowadays.”

Did Jay ever think this wouldn’t happen?

“Maybe about every day,” he said.

That was true for several years, he added. Minnesota traded him to Cincinnati in June 2019. A year later, during the brunt of the pandemic, the Reds released him. He played in the independent Frontier League for an Illinois-based team for a couple of seasons until the Mets scooped him up last summer.

When they sent him to Syracuse, it was his first time reaching Triple-A.

As manager Carlos Mendoza said before Jay’s debut, “What a great story.”

“Every night, you go to bed thinking, man, is this worth it?” Jay said of his time out of affiliated baseball. “Then every day you just get up and continue to grind. I was surrounded by a bunch of good people at home who were encouraging me to keep on going and believed in me when maybe I didn’t myself at times.”


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