It’s one thing to hang a middle reliever out to dry in a double-digit blowout.
It’s an entirely different thing to leave an ineffective hurler on the mound in the midst of a 20-6 rout. The humanitarian inside Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was on display Monday during his team’s embarrassing loss to the Texas Rangers — or maybe he just wanted to give someone else a shot at getting an out after watching four pitchers surrender 20 runs on 25 hits through seven innings.
Rather than dig deeper into a bullpen that had clearly decided not to show up, Gardenhire sent All-Star utility man Michael Cuddyer to the bump. Making the first pitching appearance of his 11-year major league career, the Norfolk, Va., native gave up two hits and a walk but did not surrender a run in a full inning of work.
It may be time to add “RP” to the growing list of positions Cuddyer can play.
If nothing else, the team owes Cuddyer a beer for finally ending their miserable evening.
“The first five innings looked like a ZIP code, that will tell you how it went...33354. I think that’s Florida...Fort Lauderdale.”
So just how rare — and how effective — was Cuddyer’s debut in the annals of emergency relief appearance history?
Consider only 17 active major league field position players have pitched in the big leagues — 18 if you count former starting pitcher Rick Ankiel. Among them, only three have made multiple appearances — Cardinals infielder Aaron Miles (5), Brewers infielder Josh Wilson (3) and Reds infielder Paul Janish (2), who owns a pristine 49.50 ERA. (Source: Baseball-Reference.com)
Cuddyer — who has now played every position on the field aside from catcher and shortstop — is now one of nine active major leaguers to pitch a full inning without giving up a run.
Even better, Cuddyer’s display of spontaneous versatility may have been just enough to keep him in the Twin Cities past this weekend’s trade deadline.