(BaseballStL) -- Nick Greenwood has been in the minor leagues since 2009 and on June 16, 2014, the 26-year-old made his major league debut, earned his first MLB victory, recorded his first major league strike-out and pitched against a boy-hood icon.
Greenwood relieved Carlos Martinez in the fifth inning with the Cardinals up by just one run. And manager Mike Matheny knew how much pressure in which the left-hander was feeling.
"We brought him right in the fire," Matheny said, "but it was the right part of their lineup to give him the test."
Two of the three batters he faced in the fifth were left-handed, the first being former Yankee Curtis Granderson. Greenwood said he grew up a Yankees fan and when he realized the first batter he faced was Granderson, he said it was weird. And then he ended up walking the center fielder.
"When I was warming up, I knew I was facing a couple of lefties, that's what I'm here for," he said, "It was a pretty unbelievable night start to finish. I got the double play and calmed down a little."
He then earned his first strike out, fanning number three batter David Wright. He went on to strike out two more batters. He retired the first nine batters he saw in order with nothing but a steady helping of strike outs and ground outs. He gave up two singles after retiring the lead off man in the eighth and that's where his night was done.
And he was met with a standing ovation from over 42,000 fans.
"I made him sit there for a second, because I heard the crowd," Matheny added, "Just told him to sit hear for a second, take a breath and enjoy it. He didn't have the road paved for him. He deserved that and the fans let him know."
But Greenwood made history on that warm Monday night. He became the most recent relief pitcher to win his MLB debut since John Costello did in 1988, the year after Greenwood was born. The last lefty reliever to win their debut was John Martin in 1980.
Greenwood was also the fifth Cardinals player to make their debut this season. The list includes Randal Grichuk, Oscar Taveras, Greg Garcia and Eric Fornataro.
There were a couple of important people in the stands, rooting for Greenwood.
"My mom hadn't seen me thrown in a couple of years so it was special for her to see,"he said.