ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- At least those debuts went well on Friday night.
Not much else did.
Catcher Josh Phegley went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and two RBIs and Simon Castro pitched three scoreless innings in relief as both made their major league debuts at Tropicana Field.
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The rest, in a contest the White Sox lost 8-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays, manager Robin Ventura would just as soon forget.
Starting pitcher Dylan Axelrod couldn’t escape the second inning and Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson was practically unstoppable.
“They jumped on Axe,” Ventura said. “They were swinging the bats and he wasn’t locating too good. If there is a silver lining, you get those guys in there. Castro, you see what he can do and he gets through it. It was one of those where you get beat up.”
The game was long over by the time the rookies -- the first two White Sox to debut in the same game since Sept. 2, 2011 and only the second pair since 1999 -- made their impact felt.
The Rays had a 7-0 lead before Phegley, who was promoted from Triple-A Charlotte earlier Friday, broke up Hellickson’s shutout with an RBI single to right. He later added a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning.
“It was kind of a strange feeling,” Phegley said. “It’s the same game. You try to tell yourself that. It was just a different atmosphere. It was exciting and stressful and nerve-wracking all at the same time. I wish it would have went a little better for us, but it was an experience.”
As for his first hit, Phegley said Hellickson -- who struck out nine and allowed a run and six hits over seven -- had him fooled with his changeup. But the right-hander offered a fastball and Phegley pushed it through the right side to score a run.
“Kind of a little weight lifted,” Phegley said. “He was really getting me with that changeup. Pretty good pitch for him. But just to kind of put the bat on the ball and see it go through there, we had a lot of hits but mine just happened to come with a guy on second so I kind of lucked out.”
Tampa Bay’s offense didn’t rely on luck as it pounded Axelrod into submission.
Jose Molina and Kelly Johnson had back-to-back home runs as part of a seven-hit second inning against Axelrod, who lasted 1 2/3 innings.
Axelrod allowed five earned runs and nine hits before he exited.
He was followed by Ramon Troncoso, who gave up two runs in 2 1/3 innings, and David Purcey, who allowed one as he issued three walks in his inning.
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Castro was the only White Sox pitcher to not yield a run.
Working for the first time since he pitched at Charlotte on June 25, the rookie right-hander used his fastball to overpower Tampa Bay hitters. He also began to mix in his slider as he got a feel for his pitches.
Castro allowed two singles to start his first inning, but got out of trouble with a strikeout and two popups. He then struck out three more batters over his final two innings in a 51-pitch performance.
“I felt a little nervous because first time,” Castro said. “But after that, after the first pitch, I was just get over with and trying to throw strikes and keep it going, and keep the lead there and give the team a chance to come back. … It’s a blessing. I’ve been working hard for this and I just feel blessed that I finally got this chance. I’m just enjoying it.”
The blowout afforded Ventura one other opportunity as he rested several regulars. Gordon Beckham, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI, moved from second base to shortstop to spell Alexei Ramirez in the seventh inning. Prior to that, Ramirez had played in all of the White Sox 737 1/3 innings this season.
Alex Rios, Jeff Keppinger and Adam Dunn were also pulled early.