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Szuminski Debuts in the Majors

By Brian Loux


Jason E. Szuminski ’01 made his major league debut with the San Diego Padres on Sunday night, in the ninth inning of their game against the San Francisco Giants. The Padres lost 6-3.

Szuminski came in to relieve Padres pitcher Jay Witasick, who, along with Scott Linebrink and Eddie Oropesa, had already blown a 3-0 Padre lead by giving up five runs in the eighth inning.

In perhaps the most unnerving start for a rookie pitcher to date, the third batter Szuminski faced was Giants power hitter Barry Bonds. Many spectators were eager to see Bonds tie the 660 career home run record of his Godfather Willie Mays. After getting ahead in the count, Bonds sent Szuminski’s pitch high and far, but only to the PETCO Park warning track for an easy fly out.

“I was trying to throw him strikes and throw to my strengths and get him out,” Szuminski said in an Associated Press interview. “I did get a front-row seat about how strong he was. I thought he popped the ball up and he hit it pretty deep.”

Bonds would go on to hit his 660th home run off of Milwaukee Brewer pitcher Matt Kinney on Monday night.

The Institute graduate got in trouble later in the inning when he walked the bases full just after Padres third baseman Sean Burroughs let runners advance to second and third base on a wild throw. Szuminski then walked Michael Tucker in for the Giants’ sixth run.

The MIT jokes abounded both during and after the game. The Associated Press story mentioned that Szuminski “learned a little bit about the trajectory of a fly ball hit by Barry Bonds.” After Szuminski walked Tucker in, ESPN radio commentators Dan Shulman and Dave Campbell commented, “he may be smarter than most of the people here, but they’re smart enough to know that that’s bad,” as the San Diego crowd began to boo. Both the ESPN broadcast and the AP story mentioned that Szuminski was technically a rocket scientist. Szuminski received an MIT degree in course XVI (Aeronautics and Astronautics).

Because the run was unearned (not the result of a batter’s hit), Szuminski’s earned run average (ERA) is still 0.00, temporarily tying him with teammate David Wells and six others for the lowest ERA in the National League as of Monday afternoon.