During this afternoon’s 19-2 shellacking at the hands of the Giants, the Rockies did something they’ve only done twice in their existence; they trotted a positional player out to the mound to pitch. In the top of the ninth, first baseman Mark Reynolds was tasked with mop-up duty during the blowout, as Bud Black tried to save his bullpen for game two of the doubleheader, as well as the rest of the series.
Colorado’s skipper had to be pleasantly surprised with the effort his “reliever” gave him, as Reynolds gave up just two runs in the inning. He was certainly as effective as a lot of the Rockies bullpen has been this season.
While the sight of Reynolds on the hill was a novelty – making him just the third position player to pitch in a game for the team, joining Brent Mayne (2000) and Todd Ziele (2004) on that exclusive list – it also served as a reminder that it was a dismal afternoon at Coors Field. The first baseman was pitching because the game was a laugher, with the joke on Colorado.
But that’s not always the case. In fact, the first time a regular Rockies player took the hill, it was a memorable and historic moment.
On Aug. 22, 2000, the Rockies went with Mayne in the 12th inning of a seemingly never-ending game against the Braves. On a Tuesday night, Atlanta used seven pitchers and Colorado trotted out nine prior to using their catcher in a game that had gone on well past four hours heading into the 12th.
Buddy Bell didn’t have many other options, as his bullpen had been completely exhausted at that point. And Mayne was fresh, having missed the previous four games due to a wrist injury. So the Rockies manager asked his catcher to pitch, something Mayne had never done at any level.
While certainly not overpowering, topping the radar gun at 83 miles per hour, Mayne got the job done. During an inning of work, he surrendered one hit and walked another, while also inducing a pair of groundouts and a fly-out to centerfield to post a zero on the scoreboard. That stat line would be welcome for Wade Davis, Mike Dunn or Jake McGee this year at Coors Field.
In the bottom of the 12th, rookie Adam Melhuse pinch hit for Mayne with two outs and the bases loaded. And the rookie delivered, singling in the game-winning run.
At that moment, history was made. Mayne became the first positional player to be the winning pitcher in an MLB game since Rocky Colavito in 1968.
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