Chris Rusin shines in MLB debut

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- In his MLB debut, former Kentucky star southpaw Chris Rusin tossed five innings and allowed one run for the Chicago Cubs at the Milwaukee Brewers, also collecting a triple in his first career plate appearance, on Tuesday night at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wis.

“It was an exciting day for Chris Rusin and his family,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said from Miller Park on Tuesday night. “Chris had a tremendous outing tonight, showed his poise and competed just like he always has. It was fun to be able to be at the ballpark and share a great moment with Chris and so many people who care about him.”

A native of Canton, Mich., Rusin was perfect through his first three MLB innings for the Cubs, retiring the first nine big league hitters he faced. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder ran into trouble in the fourth inning with a pair of hit batters and allowed his lone hit with the bases loaded to Kentucky native Corey Hart, an infield knock that bounced off Rusin’s foot.

After the infield hit to Hart, Rusin got a ground-ball double play to get out of the inning and tossed a harmless fifth inning to complete his big league debut. All told, Rusin worked five innings with one hit and one run surrendered, walking two and striking out four.

In his first two career MLB at bats, Rusin hit a pair of lasers, with his first-pitch triple into the gap making history. Rusin became the first Cubs pitcher in franchise history to triple in his first career at bat and the first MLB pitcher since Bob Muncrief did it in his first Cubs game in 1948. The last Cubs player to triple in his first career at bat was Dan Rohn in 1983. In Rusin’s second at bat, he lined a bullet up the middle, forcing a diving snap behind the second base bag for the out.

Despite the strong outing, Rusin was saddled with the loss for the Cubs and owns a 0-1, 1.80 ERA mark through his first MLB appearance. The Brewers broke open the game in the sixth inning and held on to win 5-2.

Rusin is the second former UK draftee since 2008 to debut in the big leagues in the last two years, joining Collin Cowgill, who helped guide the Arizona Diamondbacks to the National League Western Division Championship in 2011 and is currently a member of the Oakland Athletics. Since UK won the 2006 Southeastern Conference Championship season, Kentucky has become a destination for some of the top talent in baseball, as UK has had a total of 54 players picked in the MLB Draft or sign a professional contract, a staggering average of 7.29 player per season.

A 2008 first-team All-SEC starter, Rusin had made 24 starts for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs in 2012, with an 8-8 record and a 4.59 ERA. He has tossed 133.1 innings in 2012, walking 52 and striking out 87.

A fixture on the UK pitching staff from 2006-09, Rusin made 56 appearances and 45 starts, owning a 23-11 record and a 4.14. ERA. The southpaw exited UK with the second-most wins and strikeouts (274) in UK career history, also ranking fourth in win-loss percentage (.677) and innings pitched (302.1). After turning down the Athletics in the 23rd round as a junior in 2008, Rusin returned to UK for his senior year and was the fourth-round pick of the Cubs in 2009 (140th overall pick).