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RailCats ‘RC’ logo

GARY — Forget your tight collar on a scorching hot day or a sinus headache that makes you see stars.

RailCats pitcher Ayrton Costa knows all about pressure.

He gets his first name from three-time Formula One champion Ayrton Senna of Brazil and his middle name, again compliments of Dad, is Ty after legendary baseball Hall of Famer Ty Cobb.

"I've got a lot to live up to. He set the bar high for me," Costa chuckled.

Wait. There's more. Costa was signed Friday and immediately named the 'Cats' starting pitcher against the hard-hitting Sioux City Explorers.

It's not like he had just arrived at the bus station in downtown Gary with only a suitcase full of dreams. Costa began his American Association League career with Gary in 2016, was traded to the Schaumburg Boomers of the Frontier League on April 12, then traded back to the pitching-thin RailCats this week.

Both teams are owned by Pat and Lindy Salvi.

"It's always kinda up in the air. If you do well, you might stick around," Costa said before the game. "I feel like there's a lot of talent here; people that have been in affiliated baseball and that obviously attracts attention (from scouts).

"At the end of the day, it's baseball and it's what I love to do. If I play the rest of my career here, fine. If I get picked up by somebody else, it's just another day."

The California native went 1-0 with a 2.36 ERA in six games with Gary last season. He was 4-2 with a 5.81 ERA in 10 games with Schaumburg.

"The talent here as well as the Frontier League is as good as any," Costa said. "It's definitely an adjustment. The margin for error here is smaller, for sure."

The RailCats came in with a 4.33 staff ERA and three complete games.

"Ayrton's an interesting guy for us because we don't know if it's just for a couple of starts to help us out while we're in a bind," manager Greg Tagert said in his pre-game. "Right now, we're scuffling for pitchers.

"We've had a couple of departures in the last week that affected us and the worst case scenario was two extra-inning games and a starter going an inning and a third (Thursday) left us pretty much in a bind, so we pulled the trigger and acquired Costa."

Tagert wanted experience and the type of team player it's easy to root for.

"As starters go, we're looking for someone to fill that last spot in the rotation," Tagert said. "Obviously, it's a performance-oriented game but we know Ayrton and he did a nice job for us (in 2016).

"Not every manager believes it but there's something to be said for familiarity."

Nearly two hours later, the game would be called due to heavy rain and sporadic lightning with Sioux City declared a 10-0 winner.

Costa's debut proved forgettable -- eight runs, 14 hits and three strikeouts in five innings.

Injury-riddled Sioux City (28-29) had lost nine of its last 10 prior to Friday while Gary (34-26) trailed Central Division leader Lincoln by 2 1/2 games.