With only four relief appearances in the majors, nobody really knew what to expect from raw rookie Thomas Pannone in his first big-league start. And no one expected him to carry a no-hitter into the seventh inning, even against a team as lowly as the Baltimore Orioles.
It was an amazing debut for a starter.
Filling in for the injured Marcus Stroman, the 24-year-old lefty made a great first impression as the Toronto Blue Jays (58-69) blanked the Orioles (37-90) 6-0 at Rogers Centre on Wednesday afternoon to complete a three-game sweep.
After Pannone stifled the Baltimore bats through six innings, the healthy crowd of more than 40,000 groaned appreciably when Baltimore’s Trey Mancini led off the seventh with a single through the left side to end the unfolding drama.
The score remained 0-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh when Kendrys Morales cranked a solo home run, his 18th homer of the year, against Baltimore starter David Hess.
It was the fifth time in the past four games that Morales has had to break out his home-run trot.
And it helped gift-wrap the win for Pannone, who allowed only the one hit to go along with, three strikeouts and two walks in 108 pitches over seven innings.
“He did one hell of a job,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “It’s a great way to make your big-league start.”
Pannone admitted he had some pregame jitters, although they didn’t show.
“I felt pretty good,” he said. “I was a little nervous when I woke up. But as I came here and prepared for the game, I settled in really well.”
Pannone (1-0) had a great pitching duel against Hess (3-7), who surrendered the first hit of the game to Morales leading off the fifth.
Toronto put it away in the eighth when it took advantage of some rather erratic work by Baltimore reliever Miguel Castro with five runs, the big blast a three-run jack by Devon Travis.