PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies may have belted two grand slams, connected on four home runs and pounded out 20 hits in a 20-1 win over the Marlins on Saturday night, but they didn't have an answer for the "palm ball."Desperate to stay away from using yet another reliever, Marlins manager
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies may have belted two grand slams, connected on four home runs and pounded out 20 hits in a 20-1 win over the Marlins on Saturday night, but they didn't have an answer for the "palm ball."
Desperate to stay away from using yet another reliever, Marlins manager Don Mattingly handed the ball to John Holaday to pitch the eighth inning. The sixth pitcher of the night for Miami is actually a backup catcher.
Yet Holaday looked as comfortable on the mound as he does behind the plate.
Borrowing closer Brad Ziegler's glove, Holaday warmed up in the batting cages and then retired the side in order on eight pitches, with six strikes. He fanned Rhys Hoskins with a fluttering 62 mph pitch that read as a curveball. The broadcasters questioned if it was a knuckleball.
"That's my palm ball," Holaday said. "That's my go-to."
As the game got out of hand in the middle innings, Mattingly turned to Holaday and asked if he had ever pitched.
"I said, 'Yeah,'" Holaday said. "He said, 'Be ready, just in case.'"
Holaday had thrown 1 1/3 scoreless innings while with Texas against Minnesota on July 2, 2016.
Working with catcher Tomas Telis, the gameplan was basic.
"Just throw it over the plate, and keep it under the hitting speed, so they don't hit a rocket back at me," Holaday said. "That's about it."
The fastest pitch he threw was 73 mph, and the Phillies weren't on time against him.
Having a position player pitch always raises some concerns regarding safety.
"You don't want to make a farce out of the game, but it is a situation where he really saves us, as far as having to use another guy," Mattingly said. "You basically want him to be able to protect himself, but not make a farce. You want him to be able to throw the ball over the plate, that's basically the concern I have with that."
Holaday actually brought some levity to the blowout.
"I can throw it over the plate, and it's really slow," he said.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.