Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda’s Major League debut could not have gone any more perfect, as the Japanese native not only tossed six scoreless innings in a 7-0 victory over the San Diego Padres, but he also helped himself by hitting a solo home run.
The right-hander gave up five hits, struck out four and did his part to help extend the Dodgers’ scoreless streak. The outing was another statement from Maeda, who is looking to become the next pitcher to make a successful transition to the Majors.
His debut was made easier as the Dodgers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Their offensive punch nearly resulted in Maeda batting before throwing his first pitch.
According to Doug Padilla of ESPN, Maeda said scoring those four quick runs helped ease his nerves:
“I was a little bit nervous at first, but my teammates scored for runs for me [in the first inning] so that really relaxed me a lot,” Maeda said through an interpreter. “I was able to get on the mound the way I usually do and pitched the way I usually do.”
At the time Maeda stepped foot on the mound, the Dodgers’ pitching staff had yet to allow a run. He said the standard set by Clayton Kershaw and Scott Kazmir in the two games prior did add some pressure on his shoulders:
“I was aware that there were no runs allowed in the first two games and [Kershaw and Kazmir] both won so I was definitely feeding off that momentum,” Maeda said. “At the same time, knowing that there were no runs scored, there was pressure for me too.”
While it usually takes time for Japanese pitchers to adjust to life in the Majors, Maeda’s success on Wednesday came as no surprise as he threw the ball well all of spring, giving up just six earned runs in 23 innings (2.35 ERA).
His next scheduled start is Tuesday on an extra day of rest in the Dodgers home opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.