The Padres made dreams come true by deploying not one, but TWO position player pitchers
While close games are filled with edge-of-your-seat excitement, blowouts can be pretty fun, too. As the later innings start creeping in, you know there's a good chance you'll get to see a position player take the mound. Anything can happen -- knuckleballs? 95-mph fastballs? Walks after walks after walks?
You got your wish on Tuesday afternoon when the Padres turned to catcher Christian Bethancourt in the eighth inning, with the Padres trailing the Mariners, 16-4.
What did he offer? Well, a little bit of everything. His fastball reached 96, his changeup (three of them) were in the upper-80s and he even threw a knuckleball that bottomed out at a delirious 53 mph.
Hang on, hang on, hang on. Just how does that 53-mph offering feel like, though?
As for the heat, Bethancourt now has the title for hardest-throwing non-pitcher since the start of the PitchFX era in 2008:
As Padres manager Andy Green told MLB.com's Jim Hoehn:
No idea how high [Bethancourt's velocity] would be, but we knew it would be hard. We also knew there was absolutely no mechanics behind it. Just 96 in the arm with not even trying. Pretty impressive, actually. I don't know what else he was dropping in there at 53 mph, too. I got him out of there because at some point in time you just don't want to tax thea arm too much."
He then added, "It might have been my best pitching change all year."
While Bethancourt walked two batters, he still had a good time out there. Making his first appearance in about 10 years when he was 14, the catcher-turned-hurler said:
"It was definitely fun. Something, I guess, a lot of position players want to do at some point, just to get out there and see how it feels. I've already experienced it and know it's not easy to throw strikes now."
Thanks to Alexi Amarista, Bethancourt didn't allow a run, either.
After facing one batter and getting the out last year, Amarista did the same on Tuesday. The infielder needed just one pitch to retire the Mariners' Shawn O'Malley and strand the bases loaded
Beyond just saving Bethancourt's ERA, Amarista's entrance also made for some history. When he entered the game, Bethancourt was pushed to second base after already appearing at catcher, left field and on the mound. In case you're curious, Bethancourt is only the fifth player since 1913 to play all of those positions a single game. However, every other player went on to play all nine in a single game. So there's a new goal for the catcher to work toward.
This game also marked the first time we've seen two position players pitching in a nine-inning game this year. Thanks to the uptick in infielders and outfielders taking the mound in recent years though, two-in-a-game is becoming a phenomenon. Last year, Leury Garcia and Alexei Ramirez did it for the White Sox; Ryan Raburn and David Murphy joined forces for the Indians; and Jake Elore and Nick Franklin teamed up for the Rays.
Before that, you'd have to go back to 2004 when the Brewers kind of pulled it off. On April 17 of that year, the Brewers used two-way player Brooks Kieschnick and infielder Trent Durrington. Given that Kieschnick pitched 43 innings that season it's really not the same thing at all.
If you love position players on the mound, this is your time to be alive.