Cesar Valdez's pitching victory for the Toronto Blue Jays over the Oakland Athletics Tuesday night was a long time coming.
About seven years, if you want to be precise – not that the Dominican Republic native was keeping count or anything.
"When you get to the big leagues, you never think about stuff like that," the 32-year-old said after he took the mound in place of the injured Aaron Sanchez and helped lead the Blue Jays to a 4-1 triumph at Rogers Centre.
"I'm just glad the Blue Jays gave me the opportunity to be back in the big leagues and gave me the chance to get another win," he continued, speaking with the assistance of a translator. "I hope to get a chance to get a win again."
It was a performance welcomed by the struggling American League club, where good news has, for the most part, been hard to come by during a mostly laborious season.
Valdez was solid, limiting the Athletics to just five hits and one run over six-plus innings. In the process, he outduelled established major-leaguer Sonny Gray, who took the loss for Oakland.
"He was terrific, he really was," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Valdez. "We didn't know what to expect. He pitched a couple times [in relief] within the past four or five days but yeah, couldn't ask for a better outing.
"Good for him. He's been grinding it out over the years. You feel that much better about a guy like that."
The last time Valdez recorded an MLB win was on May 3, 2010, when he started for the Arizona Diamondbacks and helped lead them to a 9-1 win over Houston.
That was his major-league debut.
Soon after that, Valdez was back in the minor leagues, where he doggedly held on to his dream of playing in the bigs.
Over a span of eight seasons, he has toiled in such outposts as Yakima, Wash., Grand Bend, Ind., and Mobile, Ala., totalling close to 200 minor league games.
He also plied his trade over the winter months in professional leagues back home in the Dominican Republic, and in Venezuela and Mexico, racking up another 120 appearances.
But it was only this year that he managed to claw his way back to the majors, getting into four games with Oakland near the start of the season before being claimed by Toronto on waivers in May.
When Sanchez once again landed on the disabled list with continuing blister issues, Valdez was given the opportunity to start Tuesday's game, and he didn't disappoint.
"It was sick" is how Toronto second baseman Ryan Goins described the fine effort by Valdez, who received a standing ovation from many of the almost 40,000 spectators at Rogers Centre when he was lifted from the game in the sixth inning.
"I've played everywhere, I've been everywhere," Valdez said. "I've been to the big leagues and the minor leagues. And coming off the mound … and having the fans screaming and congratulating me was really nice."
Valdez said he was driven to keep his baseball dreams alive while toiling in the minor leagues by his father, Miguel, who died in 2015.
"He was always the guy who would push me and drive me to stay in baseball," Valdez said. "So when he passed away in 2015, everything I do now, it's in his name. When I win, when I'm in the big leagues and when I pitch, everything I do, it's for him."