Ben Lively had to wait a tantalizingly long time to make his major-league debut.
He was called from Triple A briefly in April and did not pitch.
He came back for two games in early May and did not pitch.
Lively's time to shine finally arrived Saturday and he did just that.
The 25-year-old right-hander, one of the early additions to the Phillies' rebuild, pitched seven innings of one-run ball and earned the victory in a 5-3 win over the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).
Not a bad major-league debut.
"I can't even explain it," Lively said. "It's awesome."
Manager Pete Mackanin, shellshocked after watching his team lose 26 of its previous 32 games and his starting pitchers go more than six innings just 10 times in the first 52 games of the season, wanted to kiss Lively when it was over.
"Needless to say, Lively is my favorite pitcher," Mackanin cracked. "He did a heck of a good job. The thing that impressed me the most is he showed no fear. From the first pitch on, he pitched like he belonged here."
Lively came to the Phillies shortly after the team announced its rebuild after the 2014 season. The Phils acquired him from Cincinnati for Marlon Byrd. Lively won 18 games in the minors last year and six more this year before coming up from Triple A to replace struggling Zach Eflin.
The only run that Lively gave up Saturday came in the second inning and it might never have happened if third baseman Maikel Franco could have made the play on a Buster Posey ground ball that was ruled a hit. Posey eventually scored on a sacrifice fly after a balk and a hit batsman by Lively. Those were really the only two times that Lively looked like a rookie making his debut. Otherwise …
"He was cool, calm and collected," Mackanin said. "It was really fun watching him pitch. When he went back out for that last inning, I went up to him before the inning and I said, ‘Are you OK to go back out there?' He said, ‘Yeah, I’m good.’ "
Lively scattered four hits and walked three. He made his big-league debut, got his first big-league hit and pitching win all on the same day, but his first big-league strikeout will have to wait. He did not strike out a batter.
"I couldn’t even strike out my sister tonight," he said. "But, they were swinging, putting the ball on the ground, and if they were going to keep doing that, I’ll keep rolling with it.
"My fastball command and just getting ahead was the key."
The Phillies turned three double plays behind Lively.
After being shut out, 10-0, by the Giants Friday night, the Phillies' offense put up another string of zeroes through five innings. The drought ended with two outs in the sixth when Tommy Joseph jumped on a full-count changeup from Johnny Cueto and sent it over the wall in left to tie the game. The homer traveled 447 (longest of the season by a Phillie) and came off the bat at 111 mph.
An inning later, the Phillies put the first three men on base, went ahead on a hit by Freddy Galvis and took a commanding lead on a three-run double by Odubel Herrera.
Pat Neshek protected a four-run lead in the eighth — he's allowed just two runs in 20 1/3 innings — but Hector Neris struggled in the ninth and needed an assist from Jeanmar Gomez to nail down the win.
"That was definitely exciting to see," Lively said of the Phillies' four-run seventh. "No matter what level you’re at, you always want to be winning ballgames. Winning is fun."
Lively's mother, Ginny, made the trip up from Pensacola, Florida, for her son's big-league debut. His sister and grandmother were also on hand.
Lively's dad, Ed, could not make the trip. He runs a charter fishing boat service back on the Gulf Coast and, well, Saturdays are pretty busy.
"My dad has to go catch fish," the pitcher said.
Ed Lively's boat was back at the marina by first pitch and he got to watch the game on television.
So he saw his son reel in his first big-league win.