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Diamondbacks position players pitch four innings in embarrassing loss to Rockies

There are no mercy rules in Major League Baseball. Surrendering isn’t an option either. The closest thing to the proverbial waving of the white flag is when the losing manager summons a position player to pitch the final inning or two of a lopsided game.

That was the case again Wednesday night when the Arizona Diamondbacks tossed infielder Daniel Descalso and catcher Alex Avila on the hill at Coors Field. The circumstances though were a bit different than we’re used to seeing. That’s Arizona because manager Torey Lovullo was willing to pull the plug much earlier than we’re seen in nearly 40 years.

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With his team already down 13 runs, Arizona manager Torey Lovullo called on utility player Daniel Descalso to help take the load off his bullpen… in the fourth inning. He never went back to a pitcher for the reminder of the game.

Arizona would go on to lose to the Colorado Rockies, 19-2. Honestly, that it didn’t get any worse than that is a credit to both Descalso and Avila. The position player duo combined to allow just three runs while recording 14 outs. Arizona’s regular pitchers allowed 16 runs and recorded just 10 outs.

The last time that happened was…

The Diamondbacks are the first team to record more outs with positions player pitching than actual pitchers during a game since the Milwaukee Brewers on Aug. 29, 1979. Sal Bando, Jim Gantner and Buck Martinez recorded the final 15 outs for Milwaukee in an 18-8 loss to the Kansas City Royals. The trio combined to allowed three runs, while Brewers pitched recorded nine outs and allowed 15

What what wrong for Arizona?

At the point Descalso entered, Lovullo had already burned through starter Shelby Miller and three relievers. Miller was removed after one inning with tightness in his right forearm, which is especially concerning considering he was only in his fourth start back after undergoing Tommy John surgery last May.

Miller was torched for five runs on four hits in his lone frame. Relievers Jorge De La Rosa, T.J. McFarland — who exited with neck stiffness — and Yoshihisa Hirano combined to record seven outs while allowing another 11 runs to score.

Even with the Coors Field factor in play and the Rockies bullpen proving to be a letdown, Lovullo knew this game was a lost cause.

Arizona Diamondbacks infielder-turned-relief-pitcher Daniel Descalso calls for a new ball after giving up a three-run home run to Colorado Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez. (AP)

Non-pitchers to the rescue

For Descalso, the pitching appearance was his second of the season and the fifth of his MLB career. Would you believe he came in having never allowed a run in three total innings? It’s true, but the scoreless streak ended quickly. Immediately after entering the game, Descalso would allow a single to Nolan Arenado and a home run to Carlos Gonzalez.

In Descalso’s second inning of work, he allowed another home run to Rockies pitcher German Marquez. A moment like that had not occurred in MLB in over 32 years.


Beyond those two setbacks, Descalso was impressive. He even recorded a strikeout, getting veteran outfielder Gerardo Parra.

In the seventh inning, veteran catcher Alex Avila made his pitching debut and managed to retire six of the seven batters he faced on just 13 pitches. That’s some serious efficiency.  Though the Rockies weren’t exactly working the count either.

A weird night

Arizona’s loss wasn’t the only lopsided game in MLB Wednesday night. The Cincinnati Reds were thumped too by the Cleveland Indians, 19-4.


Cincinnati would also call on a position player to pitch, but despite also being down 17 runs by the fourth inning, third baseman Alex Blandino didn’t enter until the eight inning. He was the best of the position players to pitch on this night, allowing one hit while striking out two in a scoreless inning.

There’s always tomorrow

That’s the good news for Arizona and Cincinnati on a night when they needed some.


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