(AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Just three years removed from the bright lights of Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington, former Kentucky southpaw Chris Rusin made his Major League debut in a five-inning, one-run, one-hit stint for the Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee. In addition to tossing five strong innings in front of family, friends, and his former pitching coach, now current head coach at Kentucky Gary Henderson, Rusin scalded a triple into the right-center field gap in his first at-bat on the first pitch he saw.
His effort did not go unnoticed. “Chris Rusin” was trending across the nation on Twitter late last night following the game. The power of two of the most passionate fan bases in all of sports — Big Blue Nation and Cubs Nation — leaving their mark on social media in celebration.
Despite only running through the Brewers lineup twice, Rusin had them guessing at the dish. Aside from some control problems which resulted in a pair hit-by-pitches, Rusin was perfect through his first three innings, setting down the first nine batters he faced in order. He struck out four while walking two — and the big one — only surrendering a single hit. That is a very solid box score for a rookie in his debut.
Unfortunately for Rusin, because he plays for the Cubs who are 27 games back in the division; one run allowed is one run too many. He was the pitcher of record and charged with the loss in the 5-2 Brewers victory.
Watch Rusin stroke his triple off Marco Estrada on a first pitch fastball.
Rusin becomes the 26th Kentucky Wildcat to play in the MLB, and is now the fourth former Kentucky player actively playing in the league. He joins veteran pitchers Scott Downs (Angles) and Joe Blanton (Dodgers), along with the little sparkplug from Henry Clay High School, Collin Cowgill (A’s).
However, the list of four will be short lived. As for the future for Rusin in Chicago, it likely won’t continue this season. He was called up from Triple-A Iowa to get the start, filling in as no pitcher was available on full rest following a weekend doubleheader with the Reds. It is unlikely he is sent out to the bullpen, and even more unlikely he becomes part of a new six-man rotation. Being recalled to Iowa for another couple of starts is likely, possibly to return in September when rosters expand. No matter what, it’s great to see another former Cat making it to the big leagues, and making a splash doing it.