Most seasons we can count the number of times a position player takes the mound during a Major League Baseball game on one hand. It's that rare of an occurrence. However, on Friday night, we actually saw it happen in two different games. And in both cases, the position player not only threw a scoreless inning, but recorded a strikeout as well.
The first happened in Chicago ,where the White Sox and Indians hooked up for a twi-night doubleheader at U.S. Cellular Field. Much to the dismay of both managers, the opener turned into a slugfest, and when the dust finally settled a little more than four hours after the first pitch, the Indians had prevailed 19-10 — after plating 14 unanswered runs between the second and fifth innings — and both bullpens were worked a lot harder than you'd like in the first half of a double dip.
In total, 11 actual pitchers were used. It could have been 12, but with the game already decided in the ninth, White Sox skipper Robin Ventura decided it would be wise to save a regular reliever and instead handed the ball to outfielder Casper Wells to close the game.
Strangely enough, Ventura may have been better off going to Wells a little sooner as he was easily the White Sox most effective pitcher in the game. In fact, Wells only needed 16 pitches (8 strikes) to throw a scoreless and hitless ninth.
Among his highlights:
• He was sitting between 90-93 mph on the gun with his fastball.
• He got Jason Kipnis to flyout to left field, which is the only time Kipnis had been held off the bases in seven plate appearances.
• And then he punctuated the impressive appearance by striking out a very competent hitter in Asdrubal Cabrera with a filthy breaking ball.
Perhaps filthy understated it a bit. A position player isn't supposed to come in to the game cold and drop a hammer like that one. Then again, as Gary Mabry (@nuggetpalooza) pointed out to Dave Brown on Twitter, Wells isn't your typical position player in mopup duty. He actually threw 70 innings for Towson University in 2005, and further research shows he ended that season 6-0 with 53 strikeouts and high ERA of 4.97.
Later in the night, the Los Angeles Dodgers were forced to call on their own designated emergency reliever, infielder Skip Schumaker, after the Philadelphia Phillies built a 16-1 lead.
Like Wells, Schumaker was the only Dodgers hurler to record a scoreless inning. As you'll see in the video, though, his inning wasn't quite as smooth — he ended up walking two and allowing a hit — but he did recover to strike out Humberto Quintero with the bases loaded on a 90 mph fastball.
For Schumaker, it was actually his second relief appearance of the season and the third in his career. On April 29, he pitched a scoreless ninth against Colorado with no strikeouts. In 2011, he pitched against the Dodgers as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. His current team touched him for two runs that day on an Aaron Miles home run.
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