LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Better than Chris Sale.

Better than Clayton Kershaw.

Better than a long, long, long of big-league pitchers that I could name.

That is the kind of dazzling performance that former Louisville baseball ace Brendan McKay delivered in his major-league debut for the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday against the Texas Rangers.

He was perfect through 16 hitters until Texas second baseman Danny Santana flared a soft single to right field on a one-strike pitch in the sixth inning.

The Rangers were a hot team, but McKay and the Rays stopped the six-game Texas winning streak with a 5-2 victory at Tropicana Field for his first of what figures to many big-league victories. 

That was the only hit McKay allowed in six innings. He struck out three — Delino DeShields, Joey Gallo and Logan Forsythe. In the second inning, McKay showed his athleticism by racing into foul territory near third base to retire Gallo on a pop up.

He was removed after six innings with a 3-0 lead. McKay faced 20 hitters, allowing only a single and a walk. He pitched the way he worked at Patterson Stadium, filling the zone with 55 strikes in 81 pitches.

By retiring the first 16 hitters in his big-league debut, McKay eclipsed the Rays’ record in that category, which was 10 by Jeremy Hellickson in 2010.

McKay finished his dazzling U of L career in 2017 when he was the consensus pick as the college baseball player of the year. He was selected fourth in the MLB Draft that year by Tampa and has made a steady, persistent climb to the big leagues. The Rays paid him a $7 million signing bonus.

McKay went 6-0 in 11 minor league starts at Class AA and AAA this season before he was promoted to the big leagues Friday. McKay has been told he will make his second start against the New York Yankees next week.

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