A position player pitching in an MLB game is usually a joyous occasion, a shot of novelty into a game that has already been essentially decided.
Unless, of course, the game wasn’t actually that out of reach. Then there might be time for some second-guessing.
Rays wave the white flag while down 5 runs
During the ninth inning of Monday’s game against the Boston Red Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays found themselves down 8-3 with a gassed bullpen. Manager Kevin Cash decided to turn to rookie infielder Mike Brosseau to close out the game.
To his credit, Brosseau allowed only one run in an inning of work despite topping out at around 75 mph. The Rays still lost though, and the message they sent by conceding a game that could matter in a division race didn’t sit well with some fans.
“Cash kind of asked me there in the 8th inning if I’ve ever pitched before. I told him that I have twice in Low-A,” Brosseau said. “They just asked me to throw strikes and hopefully get outs. Told him I was up for the challenge.”
Now, it doesn’t not make sense the Rays turned to Brosseau rather than go to, you know, an actual pitcher. As one Twitter user pointed out, the Rays had less than a one percent change at winning the game. It was somewhat logical, in a very cynical way, to sacrifice a non-zero, but still small, chance at winning the game to help the team in the near future.
However, it’s still a rough look for a Rays team that is a) trying to fight it out for a Wild Card spot against a number of team including the Red Sox and b) trying to justify its demands for a new stadium in Tampa or elsewhere.
When a team is openly conceding a game with serious playoff implications, fans probably shouldn’t be happy.
The Rays aren’t even the first team this year to pitch a position-player down five runs, as the White Sox pitched utility infielder Jose Rondon in a 6-1 loss against the Red Sox on May 3. However, the White Sox weren’t in the division race position that the Rays are in now, and that’s what makes the situation so unusual.
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