Ex-Shaw, Tulane pitcher J. P. France has impressive MLB debut

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In his fifth season of professional baseball, former Archbishop Shaw and Tulane pitcher J. P. France, made his major-league debut with the Houston Astros on Saturday night. Before a crowd of 40, 328 at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, the 28-year-old France realized his dream to pitch in the big leagues.

France was notified on Wednesday he was being called up, as the result of the Astros losing pitcher Luis Garcia to Tommy John surgery and Jose Urquidy to the 15-day injured list.

France drew the starting assignment Saturday from manager Dusty Baker, whose Astros have been competing in a surprisingly tough AL West Division. They are currently trailing the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels in the standings.

The 6-foot right-hander struck out Mariners leadoff batter Julio Rodriguez, last year’s AL Rookie of the Year. He then ran into trouble by loading the bases on a single, hit-by-pitch, and walk. But he re-gained his composure to hold the Mariners scoreless by striking out the next two batters.

He breezed through the second inning, retiring the side in order.

A single by Ty France was his only blemish in the third inning.

The Astros went on top in the fourth inning, 2-0, when Kyle Tucker and Jeremy Pena drove in runs.

France was spotless again in the fourth. The Astros added a third run when Yordan Alvarez doubled in Jake Meyers.

After yielding his third hit, a double by Tom Murphy, France retired the next three batters, including his fifth strikeout.

With France’s pitch count at 84, Baker went to his bullpen to preserve France’s first win.

However, the Mariners unloaded on relievers Rafael Montero and Ryne Stankek with seven runs in the bottom of the eighth.

The Astros tried to recover in the ninth, when they scored two runs. The game ended with a score of 7-5.

Baker said after the game, “It was a solid outing. I was hoping to give him the victory lineup [card] on his first start. He didn’t seem in awe of the situation or the magnitude of the game, and we’re proud of him.”

MLB.com reported France’s outing was seen by a dozen family and friends, including his three-month old son, Liam, whose plastic pacifier had a mustache similar to his dad’s.

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Richard Cuicchi

New Orleans baseball historian

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Richard Cuicchi, Founder of the Metro New Orleans Area Baseball Player Database and a New Orleans area baseball historian, maintains TheTenthInning.com website. He also authored the book, Family Ties: A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives. He has contributed to numerous SABR-sponsored Bio Project and Games Project books.

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