“It looked like he had walked through the shower before he even took the mound,” LaRoche said. “I’m sure his world was spinning pretty fast.”
In a 1-2-3 first inning, Karns attacked. He threw Manny Machado a 97-mph fastball. He induced all grounders, typical of his style. Over 2161
3 innings in the minors, Karns had allowed eight homers. He “pitched downhill,” Harris said, throwing fastballs at a downward angle.
“He was doing exactly what he needed to do,” catcher Kurt Suzuki said. “He was having fun.”
The Orioles scored one in the second, which Karns escaped with two strikeouts to leave runners on the corners. In the fourth, Chris Davis blistered a 95-mph fastball into the home bullpen. Two batters later, J.J. Hardy tomahawked a 92-mph heater over the left-center field wall. Suddenly, Karns faced a tie.
After LaRoche walked in the fourth, Moore launched Gausman’s 0-2 slider over the left field fence, his second homer. Bernadina, hitting .121 entering the game, followed with a laser over the right field wall — his first. When the Nationals finished with Gausman, they led, 7-3.
Karns needed three more outs for a win. Worn from the adrenaline of his debut, he walked two Orioles in the fifth. Johnson removed him, and Zach Duke induced a double play from Nick Markakis, the start of 42
3 scoreless innings of relief.
Karns watched from the dugout, content he had helped the Nationals win, proud he had made it to the majors and ready for more.
“It’s been a long road,” Karns said. “I’m just glad the Nats stuck with me.”