The Blue Jays called upon not one but two position players to pitch against the Indians
Baseball's unique structure means that, technically, a game could go on forever. Which also means that, technically, a team could reach the point at which it just ran out of pitchers, and was forced to rely on position players on the mound. But it's very unusual for a game to reach that magical nirvana. Happily the Indians and Blue Jays played a 19-inning, six-hour and 13-minute marathon on Friday that took us there.
That's more than two full baseball games! While the Blue Jays bullpen was able to keep Cleveland at bay well into extra innings, eventually, it simply ran out of arms. Toronto needed a hero. And so, in the top of the 18th, second baseman Ryan Goins strode to the mound. Early returns were ... not promising:
In Goins' defense, though, he was about to make his Major League pitching debut in front of a raucous home crowd in a tie game. As he explained to MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm after the game: "It's tough to control your adrenaline. I don't think I threw a strike in warmups so I was a little nervous. Not anything crazy or anything I haven't felt before, just hard to slow myself down and throw strikes."
A few deep breaths later, Goins found himself in a jam -- Indians on the corners with just one out. Don't worry, though, he had them right where he wanted them.
The 6-4-3 double play took the game into the bottom of the 18th. After the Blue Jays offense failed to score, though, Toronto was left needing to get through another inning. That's when the unthinkable happened -- an occasion so rare and glorious, we dared not speak its name: a double position player pitching sighting.
This time it was Goins' fellow infielder Darwin Barney. Alas, Barney didn't fare quite so well, giving up a solo homer to Carlos Santana that proved to be the difference in Cleveland's 2-1 win. But he bounced back nicely, busting out a curveball/changeup/??? to strike out Mike Napoli to end the inning:
And besides, Goins was willing to look at the bright side: "I'll probably look back 10 years from now and see I'm tied for the best ERA in Major League Baseball. I got that going for me."