On Tuesday afternoon, the Seattle Mariners trounced the San Diego Padres by a final score of 16-4. The first two Padres pitchers (James Shields and Luis Perdomo), allowed a combined 16 earned runs on 14 hit and five walks in just 4.2 innings pitched.
It was, uh, not their day.
Given the lopsided nature of the game already, Padres manager Andy Green made a move for a reliever, but he didn’t come from the bullpen. Instead, catcher Christian Bethancourt was called upon for mop up duty and he didn’t do half bad.
But that’s really underselling the story here. A handful of position players come in for mop up duty throughout the year, and some do relatively fine, albeit with a limited repertoire (usually a 79 MPH fastball and some other version of the exact same 79 MPH fastball). Bethancourt on the other hand, well, he was doing something pretty amazing:
On his very first pitch, Bethancourt hit 96 MPH(!). There are MANY lifelong, successful MLB pitchers who can’t do that. And it wasn’t an apparition. Bethancourt routinely threw his fastball between 93-95 MPH, with movement, added a few changeups at about 84-87 MPH and even threw knucklers at 53-64 MPH.
Heck, the 53 MPH pitch wound up being a legitimate eephus pitch:
For the most part, an eephus pitch is effective, because such a slow pitch is unexpected and throws the hitter off balance. But the thing is, it’s only unexpected and off-balancing when the pitcher on the mound is throwing hard otherwise. Most position players don’t throw hard enough to surprise a hitter like that; clearly, Bethancourt does. Very impressive, very fun.
The Mariners’ Seth Smith, wasn’t having too much fun though, like he told reporters after the game: “Any time you face a position player, it’s kind of a lose-lose situation, so you’re just trying to kind of take it as seriously you can. You don’t want to give away any at-bats, but they got him at 96, so it was less fun than some of the other position players.”
Indeed, that is a lose-lose situation. Smack a homer? Yeah, he’s a catcher. Strike out? Haha! A catcher struck you out lololo!o! Tough luck. In the end, Bethancourt faced five Mariners. He got two of them out on fly outs, walked two and loaded the bases on a hit by pitch before being removed from the mound. I say the mound and not the game, because he stayed in the game, this time at second base. And that’s only because shortstop Alexi Amarista took over the pitching duties.
Quite a weird one yesterday, wasn’t it?