OK, so the Orioles were losing 17-8 to the Texas Rangers in the ninth inning Aug. 2 when they called in usual infielder Danny Valencia to pitch. But what happened next brought a smile to the team and its fans.
Valencia faced slugger Joey Gallo, who had hit his 27th home run earlier in the game. The at-bat went to a full count, with Valencia getting a swinging second strike on a changeup and also clocking 91 mph on a fastball out of the strike zone.
The final pitch of the at-bat was an 89 mph fastball that appeared to be a few inches out of the zone, but umpire Bruce Dreckman called it a strike and got an earful from Gallo.
Later, Valencia told reporters “there was more in the tank” and he was “probably pitching around 80 percent.”
“You always dream about doing that,” he said, “but at the same time, [manager] Buck [Showalter] came out there and he said, ‘Hey, you know, throw strikes. Don’t try to overpower anybody,’ so I was just really trying to throw it over the plate, not really go max effort out there, just let it go nice and easy. My arm felt pretty good out there.”
It was the first time the Orioles used a position player to pitch since Ryan Flaherty went one inning in a 12-2 loss to Houston on Aug. 20, 2016. But it wasn't the last time in 2018.
Jace Peterson gave up four runs and six hits in the eighth inning of a 19-3 loss to the Red Sox on Sept. 26, but he, too, struck out a batter, whiffing Christian Vazquez to end the inning.