Rangers use Murphy to save pitching staff
BOSTON -- David Murphy enjoyed a unique distinction on Tuesday night. He was the only Rangers pitcher to pitch a complete inning and not allow a run to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Murphy, pitching for the first time in his professional career, pitched a scoreless eighth inning in the Rangers' 17-5 loss. Up until that point, the Red Sox had scored in every inning against starter Justin Grimm and relievers Michael Kirkman, Joseph Ortiz, Jason Frasor (who allowed an inherited run to score) and Ross Wolf.
The Rangers had to use Murphy, because Grimm lasted just 1 2/3 innings and no other reliever was able to pick up the slack. Manager Ron Washington also wanted to limit Wolf to just one inning to make sure he has a long man ready on Wednesday, when Alexi Ogando makes his first start off the disabled list. Washington also didn't want to use Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers or Joe Nathan in a blowout.
"We just decided to cut it off," Washington said. "They were winning, 17-3, and we decided to cut it off and use a player. I wanted to make sure I have some pitching left for tomorrow."
This is the sixth time the Rangers have used a position player on the mound. Craig Gentry did it on June 4, 2012, but the most memorable came on May 29, 1993, here at Fenway Park. That's when Jose Canseco pitched one inning, suffered a torn ligament in his right elbow and ended up having season-ending surgery.
"I wasn't trying to mess around," Murphy said. "My arm is definitely not in condition to pitch, and I didn't want to do anything silly or anything I would have regretted. I mean, it would have been fun to throw as hard as you can and light up the radar gun, but I wasn't going to do that."
Murphy has never pitched as a professional but did so in high school.
"There was a chance I was going to pitch in college, but in my junior year in high school, I had a stress fracture in my elbow," Murphy said. "That ended my pitching career. It was a blessing in disguise, I like hitting way better."
Murphy threw four knuckleballs, but he mainly stuck with a "fastball" that was clocked at 75-79 mph. He did not break 80 on any of his 20 pitches, but he threw 12 of them for strikes.
"I was just trying to give the bullpen a break and get off the field," Murphy said.
Daniel Nava, after fouling off three two-strike pitches, led off the inning with a double to left, but Murphy came back to strike out Mike Carp looking on a knuckleball. Carp ended up getting ejected for arguing the call with home-plate umpire Andy Fletcher.
"Anytime it's a position player, it makes for an interesting atmosphere," Carp said. "And getting tossed on top of that makes it that much more unbelievable."
Murphy then finished his night by getting Pedro Ciriaco on a liner to left and David Ortiz on a flyout to center.
"It was fun to do," Murphy said. "It will be fun some day to look back and say I did that in a big league game."