A's catcher Josh Phegley takes the mound, strikes out Adam Jones
On Sunday, one of those things that happens every now and then and seems to make everybody pretty happy (or at least slightly amused) took place in Baltimore.
The A's found themselves on the wrong side of an 11-3 score against the Orioles. Rather than trot out another reliever in the eighth inning, manager Bob Melvin turned to backup catcher Josh Phegley to get things done.
And he did just that -- throwing a slick slider to Adam Jones before retiring the O's star on a half-swing for strike three. Notice A's reliever Sean Doolittle with the double-fist-pump in the bullpen after the K:
Slugger Mark Trumbo was up next, needing a double for a cycle on the day … but Phegley retired him on a popup to short.
That's two quick outs by Phegley, pitching against two of the O's most productive hitters at Camden Yards. And he was throwing fastballs in the upper-80s, too. As he told MLB.com's Jane Lee later, Phegley grew up a pitcher and tossed one inning in his junior year at college, experience that he no doubt utilized for Sunday's appearance.
Phegley also told Lee about the flurry of emotions that went along with his pitching debut:
"It was definitely an adrenaline rush. It's never a good thing when a position player is coming in to throw, so you don't want to make too much of a mockery out of it or anything, but I definitely have a newfound respect for bullpen guys sitting for three, four hours, then ramping it up to 100 percent and coming in and getting big league hitters out. I was shaking and out of breath for probably 40 minutes after the game. The spring out there and then back in didn't help either."
Regarding striking out Jones, Phegley added:
"That was a surprise. He knew that I was just going to come fastball over and over. I've hit against a position player before and you go up there thinking you're just going to crush it, so I think he kind of just got overaggressive. I had fun with it, and I feel like some guys enjoyed seeing me do that, but at the same time, it was a tough game for us and it's tough to come in and joke around about it after that."
Phegley's mound appearance is the second position player pitching moment of the young season, coming after Astros catcher Erik Kratz showed his stuff against the Mariners in late April. Kratz, though, allowed three hits and two runs in his inning of work and did... this.
To recap: that's two position-player pitching performances in 2016, both by catchers. Some might say that's a "trend," and that we might expect the next such incident to also come from a catcher, but only time will tell.