Earlier this week in Chicago, the Philadelphia Phillies were dominating.
Down by seven runs and on the cusp of losing their tenth straight game, Cubs manager David Ross had seen enough. He called for Eric Sogard to make his third pitching appearance since June 25.
Sogard is an infielder.
Before this season, he had never taken the mound. He now has five pitching appearances under his belt, including three in eight games during the losing streak.
At the time, former Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who loves to live-tweet games (when he isn’t doing his color-commentating job), was aghast. He promptly called out the Cubs and criticized the current state of MLB:
At the time, I wrote that MLB does have a problem with the number of non-competitive teams year after year. But in general, the lack of a mercy rule in the game implies that there’s hope right down to the final out, and as sappy as it may sound, that’s kind of nice. Think about all the amazing down-to-the-wire comebacks we’d miss out on if a team could just wave the white flag whenever they wanted.
The Phillies used a position player as a pitcher the same week their former GM criticized the Cubs for doing the same.
The shoe was on the other foot on Friday night at Fenway, however. With the Red Sox up by just six runs, Joe Girardi opted to let Ronald Torreyes make his first career pitching appearance. He pitched the final frame, a scoreless gem atypical of the actual Phillies bullpen.
Our Twitter account pointed out to Amaro that Girardi had made the same choice as Ross with a slimmer run deficit. It wasn’t intended to be a “gotcha” moment, at all, just something noteworthy. Besides, at this point in the season, a lot of players are overworked and in desperate need of the All-Star break.
Amaro responded, agreeing that it was embarrassing for his former team, too.
In his eight-year MLB career, Amaro played over 100 games at every outfield position, four games at second base, and two at first. He never caught or pitched.
The Phillies bullpen needs a major overhaul before the deadline, or this season will be yet another bust. Trading for Craig Kimbrel, as big of a pipe dream as it may be, would be a literal game-changer.
Ironically, the Red Sox lost to the Phillies 11-2 on Saturday and didn’t use a position player as a pitcher. Maybe it would’ve helped.