StaTuesday: Brewers position players who have pitched

When Hernan Perez took the mound last week against the Washington Nationals, he was just the 11th Milwaukee Brewers player to pitch in a game.

Surprisingly, Perez continued the success of Brewers players on the bump. A Milwaukee position player hasn’t allowed a run in 16 years and in the 12 instances (Rick Dempsey pitched on two occasions) the opponent didn’t score in nine of those (although two appearances were just for one batter).

The overall numbers for Brewers position players when they pitch: 12 2/3 innings, four runs, 12 hits, four walks and three strikeouts.

Here’s the listing of all the Milwaukee position players who have pitched followed by a note on the individual performances:

PLAYER DATE OPP IP H R BB K
Hernan Perez 7-27-2017 WAS 1 1 0 1 0
Lyle Overbay 5-19-2014 ATL 0.1 0 0 0 0
Martin Maldonado 4-30-2014 STL 1 1 0 0 0
Joe Inglett 7-27-2010 CIN 1 0 0 0 0
Trent Durrington 4-17-2004 HOU 0.1 0 0 0 0
Mark Loretta 6-20-2001 CIN 1 1 0 1 2
Rick Dempsey 7-2-1991 BOS 1 3 1 0 0
Rick Dempsey 8-3-1991 TEX 1 0 0 1 0
Terry Francona 5-15-1989 OAK 1 0 0 0 1
Buck Martinez 8-29-1979 KC 1 1 1 1 0
Sal Bando 8-29-1979 KC 3 3 2 0 0
Jim Gantner 8-29-1979 KC 1 2 0 0 0

Sal Bando/Jim Gantner/Buck Martinez, 1979:  Kansas City had already burst out to a 9-4 lead after three innings when Reggie Cleveland gave up a two-run home run to start the fourth inning and his replacement, Paul Mitchell, served up a homer to the first batter he faced (George Brett) then allowed a walk and two singles, the last one scoring another run. Manager George Bamberger then made the surprising move to go to third baseman Sal Bando, shocking even Royals skipper Whitey Herzog, who couldn’t recall ever seeing a position player come into a game so early. Bando finished out the inning, alternating hits with outs, as the Royals made it 16-4. But a funny — or funnier — thing happened. Bando pitched a scoreless fifth inning, Pete LaCock reaching on an error to ruin the perfect frame, and then a 1-2-3 sixth. “I told George I could go three but if I went any more I would not be able to comb my hair tomorrow,” Bando said with a laugh after the game. Up next was Jim Gantner, who had been playing second base. He allowed two singles, but no runs. Buck Martinez, who wasn’t playing that day, pitched the ninth and almost escaped unscathed but allowed a two-out, run-scoring double to Hal McRae (who had been retired by both Bando and Gantner). “It was extremely difficult,” Martinez, a catcher, said afterwards. “It was a lot tougher than throwing batting practice. I hope I never go out there again. I throw everything, but none of it good.” Said Bamberger in his post-game meeting with reporters: “Every time we’ve had a bad game Bando has said to me, ‘You know you can put me in there. He’s said any time you need a pitcher come to me. I told him if you (bleep) want to pitch get yourself in there. I didn’t want to do that, but you can’t ruin your pitching staff. I had a lot of (bleep) volunteers who said they’re pitchers. Then Gantner was on my back about it, so I put him in. Then Buck said he was ready. Then (Paul) Molitor says he can and (Jim) Wohlford and Gorman (Thomas) also.” Said Herzog: “All of ’em didn’t look too bad. … I’ve never seen ’em bring anybody like that in that early. Even with a 10-run lead, you can worry with that club. They can wound the ball. They can mortally wound the ball.”

 

Terry Francona, 1989: The Cleveland Indians manager was nearing the end of his playing days when he took over on the mound for Milwaukee in the bottom of the eighth inning with Oakland leading 12-2. After retiring Terry Steinbach on a fly ball to center and Tony Phillips on a popup to second, Francona struck out Stan Javier on called strike three — with a knuckleball. “It was like Charlie Hough throwing out there,” Javier said, referring to the longtime knuckleball-throwing pitcher. That K marked the only strikeout of the game for Brewers, er, pitchers. Don August, Mark Knudson and Paul Mirabella couldn’t record a single one in their combined seven innings. Francona was more concerned about escaping with his health intact. “My only goal was not to get killed physically,” he said. “All I really could think about was somebody hitting the ball up the middle.”

 

Rick Dempsey, 1991: The catcher remains the only Brewers position player to pitch twice for the team. In his first appearance on July 2, the then-40-year-old Dempsey finished off a 14-4 loss at home to Boston. After allowing a leadoff double to Kevin Romine, he retired Tom Brunansky and Ellis Burks before John Marzano and Luis Rivera singled, the later scoring a run. Dempsey’s fastest pitch recorded in that game was 77 mph. “I was just trying to throw it over the plate,” Dempsey said. “I probably could have thrown it harder. Treb told me to ‘go out, have a good time and don’t hurt yourself.'” A month and a day later Dempsey got another chance to toil on the hill as the Brewers were losing 14-5 at County Stadium to Texas. Things went better this time. After walking leadoff hitter Gary Pettis, Dempsey induced three groundouts — by Ruben Sierra, Geno Petralli and, getting a little revenge, Romine — in pitching a scoreless inning and cutting his career ERA in half.

 

Mark Loretta, 2001: The Brewers were losing 11-3 when Loretta took the mound in the bottom of the eighth, catching Cincinnati’s leadoff hitter off-guard. “It surprised me,” Pokey Reese would say. “I looked up and said, ‘Loretta? What’s this?” The plan was not for Loretta to pitch, but after coming in as a pinch hitter in the top of the inning, the former part-time pitcher at Northwestern floated the idea to manager Davey Lopes. “It dawned on me after I hit for the pitcher, I said, ‘Why not stay in the game and finish pitching?’,” Loretta said of his conversation with Lopes in the dugout. “He said, ‘You mean it?'” Indeed Loretta did mean it. After Reese recovered from his shock, he singled, but Loretta struck out pitcher Chris Nichting, who was making his first major-league at-bat, and after a fielder’s choice and walk he struck out Ruben Rivera looking. Loretta topped out at 83 mph and threw 13 of his 19 pitches for strikes. “It was hard not to look back at the (radar) gun,” Loretta joked after the game. “I didn’t know where to stand. When (catcher Raul) Casanova put down the curve sign, I was not sure how to grip it.” But, he added, “I had a lot of fun.” Loretta would pitch again for the Dodgers in 2009, pitching one-third of an inning with one hit batter. By the way, Nichting would bad four more times in the majors, going 1 for 3 with a walk … and no more strikeouts.

 

Trent Durrington, 2004: Milwaukee trailed 10-5 at home against Houston when the Astros scored four times in the ninth on a pair of home runs off Luis Vizcaino. When two more runners reached base (with two outs), the Brewers made a switch — Craig Counsell came in to play third base and Durrington moved from the infield to the mound. As Durrington would later recall: “I threw one pitch, to Jose Vizcaino, and he popped it up.” (Note: Actually a fly out to right field.) Durrington remains the only Australian position player to pitch in the major leagues.

 

Joe Inglett, 2010:  In a 12-4 game vs. Cincinnati, Ken Macha, who said he never had used a position player to pitch previously, brought in Inglett from right field to pitch the ninth. He retired the top of the Reds’ order: Brandon Phillips, Orlando Cabrera and Joey Votto. Inglett averaged 54 mph on his pitches, causing catcher Jonathan Lucroy to comment, “I put down fastball, but it wasn’t fast.” Inglett didn’t want to talk about his pitching after the game, but Yovani Gallardo, who started and allowed 10 hits in 2 1/3 innings, said: “One, two, three. That’s all I can say. I was pretty impressed. For him to go in there and get three outs, he made it seem easy.”

 

Martin Maldonado, 2014:  Maldonado’s appearance was a rare situation for a position player — his team was down “just” six runs. However, trailing 9-3 in the ninth and having just played two extra-inning games, Ron Roenicke elected to save his worn-down bullpen. Maldonado topped out at 86 mph and averaged 74.4 mph on his 14 pitches.

 

Lyle Overbay, 2014: Like Maldonado a few weeks earlier, Overbay came in during a 9-3 game but he faced just one batter — his former teammate with Pittsburgh as well as fellow Washington native, Ryan Doumit. Overbay threw six pitches and retired Doumit on 3-2 pitch, getting him pop to shortstop. “These guys make it look a lot easier than it is,” said Overbay of pitchers. “I just threw it slow enough for him to pop out.” Remarked Doumit: “Anytime you face another position player, you just don’t want to strike out, especially against another Washington boy and former teammate. So, I was just trying to put the bat on the ball.” Doumit also offered a scouting report on Overbay, with his tongue firmly in cheek. “The kid has nasty stuff,” he said. “He’s got a bright future. I’m going to keep my eye on him.”