Given the limitations in place, Sonny Gray's debut for the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night -- a 3-0 win over the visiting Phillies -- went about as well as possible. 

On a 65-pitch limit because of the hamstring strain suffered during spring training, Gray, fresh off the injured list, worked five shutout innings against the Phillies. In that top of the fifth, Gray seemed on the verge of bequeathing a jam to the bullpen. With two on and one out and Gray's count up to 63 pitches, manager Oli Marmol visited the mound, presumably intent on lifting his ace. Gray, though, talked his way into at least one more batter. He made the most of it, as he teased an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Johan Rojas. The twin killing ended the Philly threat and Gray's night. 

Across those five frames, Gray struck out five, walked none, yielded five hits, and recorded five ground-outs against two fly-outs. He leaned on his fastball, but overall Gray presented the Phillies with a balanced mix of his deep repertoire. His fastball topped out at 94.2 mph and averaged 92.9 mph, which is roughly in line with 2023 levels. Gray permitted four hard-hit balls on the night. Now for the moving pictures: 

The Cardinals had discussed having Gray make a minor-league rehab start before joining the active roster, but instead they decided to let their new ace ramp up his pitch count in game action. The decision paid off on Tuesday. 

The Cardinals signed Gray away from the Twins this past offseason to a three-year, $75 million pact that also includes a club option for 2027. The addition of Gray was the most notable part of a significant rotation overhaul that also included the signings of veterans Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson.

Gray, 34, is coming off a season for the Twins in which he pitched to a 2.79 ERA and an MLB-leading FIP of 2.83 with 183 strikeouts in 184 innings. For his efforts, he finished second to Gerrit Cole in the American League Cy Young balloting. For his career, he owns an ERA+ of 121 across parts of 11 big-league seasons. 

Gray's win pushed the Cardinals to 6-6 on the season.