Big League Stew - MLB

This and every weekday a.m. during baseball season, let's rise and shine together to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts inside St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field, where games sometimes go awry, afoul and askew for Rays opponents. Hapless visitors can find themselves putting outfielders on the pitcher's mound, and pitchers into the outfield.

Game of the Day
Rays 13, Red Sox 0

Comic relief: Some things never cease to be funny. A man wearing a dress. Dogs playing poker.  A position player pitching in a major league game. No matter how hard the position player tries, no matter if he "pitched in high school," no matter how much he "can do Sandy Koufax's windup —  just watch," he just can't replicate a major league delivery. It always looks like batting practice, or like a series of ceremonial first pitches by a non-athlete dignitary, or like the guy's back hurts.

Watch for yourself as Jonathan Van Every takes the mound.

EveryMan? FunnyMan!: With the score out of hand and a desire to save the rest of his bullpen from working, Red Sox manager Terry Francona called for Van Every, the right fielder, to pitch on Thursday night. A 29-year-old rookie, Van Every saved the Red Sox on Wednesday with a 10th-inning home run and a great catch.

But who would play right field when Van Every went to the mound? Unwilling to use catcher Jason Varitek — the only position player who hadn't played — Francona decided to keep pitcher Javier Lopez in the game and put him in right field with a switcheroo you might see at the Little League field this weekend.

From Boston.com:

"I don't like doing it," Francona said. "I'm not going to let a pitcher get hurt. Javy had thrown three days in a row. Once he gave up [another] hit, I was like, 'You know what? OK, this is enough.' It wasn't to embarrass anybody. It certainly wasn't to embarrass Javy. Just not going to hurt somebody like that. ... [W]e were already getting killed. It was a bad night."

Don't let them hit it to right: Of course, Michel Hernandez then drove a double to right that Lopez had to chase and field. He did, thankfully without incident.

From MLB.com:

"It was strange, definitely, when the guy hit the ball to right-center and I see Javy running after the ball," Van Every said. "Luckily, nobody got hurt."

It was reminiscent of a couple of weeks ago, when Yankees manager Joe Girardi used New York City Mayor Nick Swisher as a pitcher in the late stages of a Rays blowout at the Trop. Francona, always looking for an edge on the Bronx, tops his New York counterpart here.

Tale of the Tape: MLB.com's pitch-by-pitch data is woefully incomplete, so I couldn't find a speed for every pitch by Van Every, but he seemed to top out at 81 mph (to Ben Zobrist) and most of the other throws seemed 75-79, but those mostly are guesses. He didn't allow any runs, though an inherited runner scored.

How does Van Every's outing compares with Swisher's?

Swisher: 1 IP, H, BB, K, 22 pitches, 12 strikes, 80 MPH high, words in last name — 1
Van Every: 2-3 IP, 2 H, BB, 17 pitches, 11 strikes, 81 MPH high, words in last name — 2

Oh, the Rays won, too: Matt Garza was awesome, taking a perfect game into the seventh, and the Rays thoroughly waved the whoopin' stick to punish Josh Beckett. The big offensive protagonists were Longoria (3-for-5, homer, four RBIs) and Hernandez (4-for-5, HR, 3 RBI).

* * *

Feelin' Rundown (including pitchers as pinch-hitters):  

Marlins 8, Cubs 2 (10 inn.): The Cubs are so desperate for offense that pitcher Carlos Zambrano pinch hit in the eighth. After Z (of course) singled, manager Lou Piniella curiously declined to use car-jumper Joey Gathright to pinch run and, maybe, steal second. It didn't matter, I guess, as Alfonso Soriano flied out. Lou will not be questioned, sir! Cubs are under .500.

Athletics 4, Rangers 2: Ryan Sweeney made the greatest of plays — robbing Ian Kinsler of an otherwise certain home run — and just made Kinsler really mad in the process.

Cardinals 9, Nationals 4: Oh, yeah, THAT'S why you don't really want Julian Tavarez pitching the ninth inning of a close game.

Brewers 4, D-backs 1: The Crew did the smart thing by simply waiting for flamethrower Max Scherzer to leave the game. When he did, in the seventh, they scored four runs against Tom Gordon. Greatest. Strategy. Ever.

Dodgers 8, Padres 5: At 7-0 in Chavez Ravine, it's the best Dodgers home start since 1947, when they still played in Brooklyn and Jackie Robinson was a rookie. Bums!

Royals 8, Blue Jays 6: KC turns two six times. Didn't the Royals just hit into six double plays last week? They really know how to turn it around, these Royals.

Yankees 7, Angels 4: I thought they ran the Melk Man out of New York, but there he goes hitting a tie-breaking single in the eighth. Son of a gunderson!

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