As the A's were approaching the end of a blowout loss Sunday to the Houston Astros, manager Bob Melvin elected to send infielder Ka'ai Tom out to pitch in the top of the ninth inning.
Facing the top of an imposing Astros batting order, Tom allowed just one hit in what became his MLB pitching debut. Following the brief outing, Tom spoke about the "crazy feeling" of taking the mound for the first time in quite a while.
"It has to be when I was like in high school, but it was kind of like a legion season so I haven't actually been a pitcher all my life," Tom said when asked about the last time he pitched in a game. "They just kind of threw me out there because I was just another player, kind of like just begged to get an inning to pitch, so just to have honestly like a debut pitching in the big leagues is pretty incredible."
Tom's mother was in the stands at the Coliseum for Sunday's game, and even with a throng of A's fans in the stands, he could make out her cheers as he took the mound.
"I can always recognize her voice no matter how many people are yelling," Tom told reporters postgame. "It's a pretty awesome feeling, and just knowing that no matter what I'm doing, she's going to support me. I think stepped on the mound just to warm up, I looked at them and she was waving her hands and everything, so that just made me smile. Of course, getting the last out coming back I was just smiling back at them and of course, she didn't know what was going on but she was just happy for me and this whole thing was actually pretty fun."
It wasn't a fun series for the A's as a whole, however, as Oakland capped off a four-game sweep in which Houston thoroughly dominated each and every game. Manager Bob Melvin said his bullpen was beat up after four tough games, but was happy for Tom to come away with getting three of four batters out and not surrendering a run.
"Well he should, nice clean inning. I'm sure he was nervous, he's never done it before, so hopefully it brings a little levity at the end of the game," Melvin said of the standing ovation Tom received from the home crowd after the top half of the ninth.
Tom, a 2015 draft pick of the Cleveland Indians, made his overall MLB debut just a few days prior in the A's Opening Day loss to Houston. Still seeking his first hit in the big leagues, Tom now can cross getting a chance to pitch in a game off his bucket list.
Perhaps that confidence can carry over as the A's continue their homestand on Monday night when the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers roll into Oakland.