It isn't about how you start, it's about how you finish.
And for Tigers No. 3 prospect Alex Faedo, it was a masterful finish to his professional debut on Friday night as Class A Advanced Lakeland held on for a 6-5 win over Tampa at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Gameday box score
"It was awesome to finally get out there and pitch," said Faedo, who was selected 18th overall in last year's Draft. "It's been a long time coming. I was very antsy and I think that showed in the first inning. But then I settled down and it was awesome, ultimately winning the first game of the year for us."
After getting Tampa's leadoff hitter to pop out, Faedo surrendered back-to-back homers to the next two Tarpons -- Yankees No. 2 prospect Estevan Florial and Brandon Wagner -- to put the Flying Tigers in an early 2-0 hole. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound right-hander then hit Isiah Gilliam with a pitch.
"I threw a changeup to Florial down and in and you can't do that to a lefty. I missed my spot and he's a very talented player," Faedo said. "And then [to Wagner], I fell behind, 2-0, and my next pitch got too much of the plate. But after I hit the next guy, I settled in and started to hit my spots a little better.
"I had a good feel for all three of my pitches tonight, especially my changeup, which no one has really seen before, so that was huge."
Gilliam was caught stealing by Andres Sthormes, Faedo retired the next 13 batters to finish his five-inning outing without another blemish.
"I think a lot of it had to do with the guys scoring those two runs back right away," Faedo said, referring to the Flying Tigers' rally in the bottom of the first to knot the score. "That gave me a lot of confidence. It let me know that my team had my back and I just wanted to go out there and put up quick zeros and keep the tempo on our side."
During his stretch of 13 consecutive outs, Faedo struck out four and the Tarpons got only three balls beyond the infield.
"It's all a credit to my teammates," the University of Florida product said. "The bottom of the first was a long inning and they not only got the runs back that I gave up, but that time also gave me some extra rest and a chance to think about the adjustments I needed to make."
Lakeland tacked on a run in the fifth, when Tigers No. 9 prospect Daz Cameron drove in 13th-ranked Derek Hill to put Faedo in line for the victory.
"You know, I've never played with these guys before and you hear a lot that pro ball is an individual game. But I did not see that today," Faedo said. "All these guys are playing to win out there and the biggest thing about tonight is knowing that my teammates have my back. And that's huge."
After the Tarpons tied it in the sixth, the Flying Tigers scored three times in the bottom of the inning. And although Tampa threatened in the ninth with the tying run on third base with nobody out, Eduardo Jimenez locked down the win and picked up his first save of the year by striking out the next two hitters and getting Diego Castillo to ground out.