A.J. Pierzynski has been around long enough to know big-league debuts tend to go one of two ways: really well or really poorly.

And that’s why Pierzynski left Rangers Ballpark feeling good. He went 0 for 4 at the plate but played a significant role in making sure rookie right-hander Nick Tepesch shined in his first major-league start.

Pierzynski helped Tepesch work out of early jams and into the eighth inning of his impressive debut in the Rangers’ 6-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.

“As a catcher, it’s the one position where you can have a bad night offensively but get the guy through the game the way we did and have him pitch well and get his first big-league win — makes you feel great,” Pierzynski said. “I couldn’t be any more proud of Nick. For him to go out and pitch the way he did — I’m really happy for him.”

Tepesch got into some early trouble but showed poise and patience as well as stuff good enough to get hitters out at the highest level.

After a perfect first inning, including a strikeout of Matt Joyce, Tepesch ran into trouble in the second. He issued consecutive two-out walks to load the bases but got out of it by striking out Kelly Johnson. At that point, though, he had thrown more balls (22) than strikes (21).

“I wasn’t worrying about limiting my pitch count,” Tepesch said. “I was just trying to make too good of pitches instead of just making quality pitches.”