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Vanden Hurk made a splash

Rick was fantastic in his first Major League start.

The Marlins couldn't have asked for much more from Henricus ''Rick'' Vanden Hurk, an unheralded pitching prospect from the Netherlands who stepped out of obscurity and into the big leagues Tuesday.


The night should have belonged to Vanden Hurk, 21, who became the first pitcher from the Netherlands to start a major-league game since Bert Blyleven, and only the sixth to play in the big leagues.

Vanden Hurk, an emergency starter who had never pitched above Single A, was called up because of Ricky Nolasco's elbow injury and, in part, because prospect Gabby Hernandez pitched Sunday and wasn't available. Vanden Hurk went 4 2/3 innings, but didn't return after a 49-minute rain delay. He gave up one run and five hits, and struck out five consecutive batters during a stretch.

''The kid did a good job,'' said Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest, who has a knack for finding and bringing unknown talent to the Marlins.

``You never know. We liked him, but you don't know. He's got a good head on him. He really did a nice job tonight.''

Said Gonzalez: ``I thought he was outstanding. He did a great job. He was composed and he threw strikes.''

Vanden Hurk's parents flew in at the last minute from the Netherlands.

''It took 14 hours and it cost a fortune,'' said his father, Wim. ``But it was worth it, every second of it. It was awesome the way he pitched.''

I didn't get see much of his start but I did get to listen to Dave and Roxy give the play by play.  In case you didn't, it was all Dutch, all the time.  It was unbelievably cool.

Rick far exceeded my expectations.  It will be interesting to see how he handles his next start, which according to Rich and Tommy will be in Atlanta.  I hope so.  The print media still has him pitching in Houston.  Atlanta would be a much better choice.

The night should have belonged to Rick, but sadly, it didn't.