Raburn's relief stint offers comical moment for Tribe
CLEVELAND -- As men in both dugouts watched with amusement, Indians utility player Ryan Raburn entered in the ninth inning of Thursday's game not to man right field or second base, but to pitch.
Despite the giggles, Raburn was all business on the mound. He retired the side in order, covering first base on a grounder to Nick Swisher and even striking out Matt Tuiasosopo with an 89-mph heater.
"I was about as nervous as my first Major League at-bat," Raburn said. "I was just hoping I threw it somewhat near the plate."
Raburn, who pitched in high school and college, had a feeling that Tribe manager Terry Francona might send him to the hill, considering the 12 innings Cleveland's relievers already pitched Wednesday and Thursday.
In the same week his contract extension with the Tribe was announced, Raburn made his first professional pitching appearance.
"I told my agent we have to renegotiate now because I'm a two-way player," Raburn said.
With his performance, Raburn became the first position player to pitch for Cleveland since Andy Marte showed off his windup against the Yankees on July 29, 2010. Marte struck out Swisher in that outing.
The fact that Raburn's moment on the hill came against Detroit, the team he spent the first seven years of his career with, made it even better.
"He told me he could hit 90 whenever I pitched [in 2011]," Tigers outfielder Don Kelly said. "I didn't see a nine up there."
Well, maybe not at the beginning of Raburn's radar readings, but Tuiasosopo will surely remember the fastball he swung through. After facing the bottom third of Detroit's lineup, Raburn joked about going up against the top of it, perhaps even staring down the ever-imposing Miguel Cabrera.
"I told Miggy I wanted to face him," Raburn said. "Maybe next time, if I get a chance, I'll try to strike him out."
As the Tigers were wrapping up their four-game sweep at Progressive Field, Raburn's pitching provided some comic relief for the Indians, and Francona had no problem with that.
"We got beat around a little bit and it's not very much fun," Francona said, "so the guys had something to kind of latch onto, and that's OK."