James Kaprielian made his first MLB start Wednesday night for the Athletics, and his dad, Doug, got to witness the entire thing. But James felt someone else there.
His late mother, Barb.
“I know my mom was there with me as well,” the pitcher said following Oakland's 4-1 win over the Boston Red Sox.
Barb died of cancer in June 2014.
“When it comes to my mom, my mom’s with me every step of the way out there,” Kaprielian said. “There’s times when I’m struggling, and I don’t know if you guys ever catch it, but I take a pause when I’m off the mound and I look in between the third base dugout and home plate and it’s the same spot my mom would sit when I was in high school and when I was at all of my college games.
“For me, that’s kind of where I collect myself, gather my breath and that’s been my focal point since college. So she’s with me every single pitch and once that last out happened, I couldn’t help think of my mom there.”
In five innings, Kaprielian struck out six, walked three and allowed just one earned run.
Doug Kaprielian got plenty of airtime on NBC Sports California during his son's starting debut.
Following the game, James and his dad embraced.
“He’s so happy and so proud of me,” Kaprielian said. “It really means the world to have him fly out. It was special for me, and I know how intense he is and how proud he is of me. Just a really special moment for my entire family. They’ve been in my corner at times when I didn’t think I was going to be in this position, and they continue to encourage me and keep me positive.”
Kaprielian said he could see his dad tearing up after they spoke. He instructed Doug to get a beer to calm down a bit.
“They’re really the backbone of who I am and my dad is that man and he’s the rock of the family.” Kaprielian said. “I’m hearing all the attention he’s getting during the game, and he gets pretty intense and pretty amped up, as I’m sure most of you were able to see tonight."
Kaprielian was able to come out of a tough first inning. He walked in the Red Sox' only run that inning, but settled down in time to strike out Hunter Renfroe in the next at-bat. Kaprielian allowed four baserunners in the first inning, and only four more over the next four.
He wanted "to show everybody I can thrive in those moments.”
“I really take pride in those innings,” Kaprielian said. “Minimizing damage is the name of this game. We were able to make a couple plays and we were able to get a couple outs. Like my dad’s pretty intense, I can get pretty intense out there, but I really love those moments. Those are the moments I think great pitchers are able to come out of.”