White Sox starter Carlos Rodon lasted only three-plus innings, while Matt Albers, Dan Jennings and Daniel Webb were extended in relief. LaRoche had told manager Robin Ventura during Spring Training that if the situation ever called for it, he wanted to pitch.
After all, he did pitch in the Minors for two games and had a 1-0 career record. The situation called for it Friday at the end of a second straight loss.
"I have begged every manager I have ever played for to let me go out there and pitch," LaRoche said. "I've had three or four situations, and they have all been extra-inning games when we're running low and three or four times where if we didn't score, I was going out the next half inning.
"Sure enough, every time we scored to go ahead. I've been close and never got to do it. That has been on my bucket list for a long time."
LaRoche followed Adam Dunn to the mound, with the retired slugger pitching an inning last Aug. 5 against Texas. He retired Stephen Drew on a popup to second baseman Carlos Sanchez, set down John Ryan Murphy on a groundout to second and then struck out Brendan Ryan.
That's right, the first strikeout by a White Sox position player since Casper Wells against the Indians' Asdrubal Cabrera in '13, per STATS LLC. LaRoche tried to work in a "LaLob" during that at-bat against Ryan, in tribute to his father, Dave, a former White Sox coach and accomplished reliever for 14 years who made that slow pitch famous.
His LaLob didn't make it to the plate, coming in at 50 mph. He then fired an 85-mph fastball past Ryan.
"Yeah. I had no chance on that one," said Ryan, who was able to joke about the at-bat with LaRoche. "I tried to get to it, but after the 50 mile an hour whatever it was, it looked like 110."
Four hits for LaRoche, raising his average to .219, stand as more important to the White Sox short-term and long-term cause. But LaRoche's effort on the mound took the edge off a bad loss.
"He threw a good inning," said Ventura of his hard-hitting reliever.
"You can rarely find something to smile about in a beating like that," said LaRoche, whose son, Drake, informed him of topping out at 85 mph. "That kind of gave us all something to laugh about after the game and keep it loose. Baseball-wise, I haven't had much to smile about this year anyway, so it was nice to get out there on the mound and let it go a little bit."