That was easy! Crawford relishes pitching debut

June 12th, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Crawford has played in precisely 1,601 games in his Major League career. Up until Sunday, he had only played at one defensive position -- shortstop.

Now he can add “pitcher” to his resume.

“I doubt many guys have played only shortstop for 1,600 games and pitched one game. I'm on a list by myself, I think,” Crawford said.

A 13-3 blowout is usually not a time for fans to rise to their feet and start cheering as if something big just happened.

That is, unless a fan favorite who had previously been given the day off was finally granted a wish he’s had for a while now -- pitching in a big league game.

Oracle Park got loud -- very loud -- in the ninth inning of the Giants’ handy win over the Cubs. Fans pulled out their phones to take pictures. Chants of “Let’s go Crawford!” cascaded down from all corners of the ballpark.

And Crawford, a two-time World Series champ, three-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glover and one of the most popular Giants in their rich and star-studded history, gave the people what they wanted -- a scoreless inning.

After the game, the chair at Crawford’s locker contained two items -- the game ball and the lineup card. Crawford emphasized a few key points: He had about five or six warmup tosses before being called for his big debut, he hit 90 mph once on the radar gun and his ERA is now a sterling 0.00, which he’ll be happy to remind his pitching teammates about in the coming days and weeks.

“I always give pitchers a hard time about it not being that hard. So I think I proved today that it's not,” Crawford quipped. “They probably don't love that I have a zero ERA, because I'll continue to give them a hard time about it.”

This is all in good fun, of course -- similar to the types of conversations Crawford has had with manager Gabe Kapler about trying his hand at pitching. It’s something Crawford has wanted to do for years. Sunday presented the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl.

Kapler approached Crawford about the subject in the top of the eighth inning, and after a quick bottom-half, it was go time.

“We kind of talked it through, and he got loose in the cage and started to get excited about it,” Kapler said. “It's obviously a really cool moment for everybody in the stadium, including the dugout and all of us in the organization. It was fun to see him get that opportunity.”

“In high school and in college, I felt like I had like decent stuff to where maybe I would have been able to [pitch] in a different life or something like that,” Crawford said. “So it was kind of fun to to go back out there and do it.”