The bullpen phone rang in the ninth inning. Bullpen coach Eddie Guardado answered and told Trevor Hildenberger to warm up for the bottom of the inning.
"My stomach dropped and your heart jumps in your throat," Hildenberger said. "Once I got on that game mound, I felt normal. I was just competing. Luckily, I was able to throw enough strikes to get some guys out."
And that's how Hildenberger's major league debut went on Friday as he threw a scoreless ninth in the Twins' win over Cleveland. He struck out Roberto Perez on a change up and gave up a double to Bradley Zimmer.
But Zimmer hits off Hildenberger aren't new, I found out when I asked him if he's faced him in the minors.
"I faced him in college a lot," he said. "He went to USF (San Francisco). I don't think I've ever gotten him out. He rakes me. There's nothing new about that."
Twins manager Paul Molitor approved of the outing. Of course he would. He'll take a zero any way he can get it these days.
"He made it exciting with the double, but he got through it," Molitor said.
Hildenberger went to Cal, by the way. Which meant the battery in the ninth was a Cal guy throwing Stanford guy in Jason Castro. Lots of brain power at work.
Hildenberger had scouts in the pressbox focusing hard on him. The radar gun malfunctioned a few times during his outing, which they weren't happy about. But they saw the change up in action as he got the strikeout of Perez and a swing and miss from Jason Kipnis before he grounded to first. Hildenberger will throw it to righthanded hitters as well as efties.
"It's a weapon more than any other pitch," Hildenberger said. "It's a big part of my game."
After the game, he was outside the clubhouse talking to family and friends, including his parents, John and Denise. They happened to be in Rochester when he got the news when he was called up, so he was able to tell them in person. They immediately drove to Cleveland and were rewarded right away.
You only get to debut once, and Hildenberger made the most out of it.
"Felt good to get the first one out of the way," he said, "and kind of adjust. I can get a good night rest. This one feels good, really good."