It was a memorable Monday night for Tigers rookie Blaine Hardy.
After joining the team Sunday, Hardy made his major-league debut Monday night in the seventh inning.
The Royals had already scored four runs in the inning and had runners at the corners and no out.
Hardy struck out Nori Aoki and former Tiger Omar Infante and then got Eric Hosmer to ground out to end the threat.
"I’m glad it happened the second day," Hardy said. "I was definitely more anxious that first day. Being a day game, didn’t get much sleep. Second day, I was a little bit more relaxed. I went out there, treated it like any other game."
In the eighth, Hardy got Billy Butler and Alex Gordon to ground out, then walked Brett Hayes, allowed a single to Lorenzo Cain and walked Mike Moustakas before getting Alcides Escobar to ground out.
What made it even more special is that Hardy’s girlfriend and father, Dave, were at Comerica Park to witness Hardy’s debut.
"It’s fantastic that my dad was able to make it out," Hardy said. "I really did not expect him to be able to make it as soon as he did. I figured he probably would have been here for (Monday) night’s game but he ended up taking the red-eye and made it out for the first one, too. It was really great to see him out here."
Hardy spoke to his dad after the game.
"He was kind of speechless," Hardy said. "He was like, ‘It was unbelievable to see you out there on a major league stage, and keep pitching like you always have.’"
Hardy said his dad and his dad’s best friend had season tickets for the Seattle Mariners games when Hardy was a kid.
"It’s pretty amazing," Hardy said. "We still see some guys that were playing back then that are still around now and being able to see them on the same field that I’m on now is incredible."
Hardy got to know his teammates during spring training and said they welcomed him with open arms.
"This is one of the best group of guys I’ve ever played with," Hardy said. "Obviously you had a great group of guys down in the minor leagues. But for a team that’s trying to win a World Series, they’re very relaxed and very easygoing. They make this clubhouse atmosphere a lot more enjoyable."
Hardy became the 18th Tigers reliever to throw two or more scoreless innings in his major-league debut. The last was Al Alburquerque on April 15, 2011 against Oakland.
Now that his debut is under his belt, Hardy expects to be less anxious the next time he pitches.
"Getting that first outing out of the way was a big step," Hardy said. "I should be a lot more calm for my next outing. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep putting up zeroes for the team."
After coming out of Monday’s game in the fourth inning with a right hamstring cramp, Hunter was still sore Tuesday and was not in the lineup.
"Yeah, I usually tell (head athletic trainer Kevin Rand) ‘Go back in, I’m good.’ But I couldn’t." Hunter said. "I felt something that I rarely feel. I haven’t felt that in 10 years."
Hunter said it was difficult to get off the field.
"I just walked off the field, was hurting, but you’d never know," Hunter said. "Miggy carried me up these stairs right here. Support, because I could bend my leg to walk up the stairs, so he grabbed me and I put my arm around him."
Hunter said he didn’t think he’d be available to pinch hit but hoped to be better by Wednesday.