An early injury to his starting pitcher put Cleveland Indians manager Manny Acta in a bind on Thursday night.
So considering the Tribe's bullpen has been overtaxed lately and the New York Yankees were leading by 10 runs, Acta turned to one of his infielders, Andy Marte(notes), and instructed him to pitch the ninth inning.
"He told me the inning before," Marte said. "I said, 'Are you sure?' "
On a night when the Yankees blew out his team 11-4, it easily was Acta's best decision.
"Me and Marte, we've both got the same ERA," Swisher joked. "I now have a new most embarrassing moment. He had some run on his stuff. I was sitting on the breaking ball, 0-2, and he gassed me upstairs. ... As soon as I swung, I knew it."
It was the second time in a 48-hour span a position player mopped up as a pitcher. On Tuesday, Joe Inglett(notes) of the Milwaukee Brewers pitched a scoreless ninth against the Cincinnati Reds. No strikeouts for him, though.
Marte's one-inning perfecto was a feel-good moment for the Indians dugout, along with what remained of the crowd at Progressive Field — which was denied Alex Rodriguez's(notes) 600th career home run again. Even the Yankees took it with good humor.
So why was Acta acting like a curmudgeon after the game?
"That's something I don't like doing," Acta said of inserting a position player to pitch. "I did it because we had to. It looks like a mockery of the game."
It's a travishamockery! As Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing noted: No, no, no. It was fun, it was fun-ny and it was more or less necessary. Starter Mitch Talbot(notes) had exited because of a back strain and the other Indians relievers were either used up, not available or not any good.
The Indians bullpen — now that's a mockery of the game, Manny.
Besides, it all worked out.
Marte also retired MVP candidate Robinson Cano(notes) on a grounder to second after getting behind 3-0 and nearly decapitating him on the first pitch. Marcus Thames(notes), after falling behind 0-2, lined out to third to end the inning.
It was Cleveland's second 1-2-3 inning of the game, and Marte was the only Indians pitcher not to walk at least one batter. Jake Westbrook(notes) (smiling) and his teammates were impressed. What else could get them on the top step in a blowout?
"Everybody was laughing. I was, too," Marte said. "I made my debut against the Yankees."
Marte reached 89 mph on the radar gun and threw the ball with astonishing side-to-side and downward movement for someone who never had pitched. He threw 13 pitches — nine for strikes.
"They were all fastballs," Marte said.
Over parts of six seasons, Marte is a career .214/.273./.350 hitter who has struggled to find his place in the majors. He's only 26. It's not too late for him to switch positions again, more permanently.
* * *
Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave