Moral victories don’t count in the statistics, which is unfortunate, but they are a beautiful moment in time when they happen.
Last night, the AirHogs lost to the Larado Lemurs 12-11 in twelve innings. However, they were left for dead by the end of the seventh – mainly due to the constantly moving strike zone of an incompetent home plate umpire. (Both managers complained – ours got ejected, which means his complaints were better.)
So, in the bottom of the ninth, with an eight-run lead, Laredo sent their third baseman to the mound to pitch.
Yes, the third baseman.
Now, this may seem like cockiness, but I don’t think so. You have two teams that had played a double-header the night before, they had used three pitchers already, there was another game the next day and the home plate umpire wouldn’t know a strike or a ball, so you’re going to have to rely on your defense. You’ve got an eight-run lead, what could possibly go wrong?
You might come up against a team that finally decided it was time to play baseball.
Ryan Pineda hits a single on a 2-1 pitch. Let’s not get excited, but at least somebody is on base.
Angel Flores hits a 1-2 pitch and gets on. Men at first and second.
Fraizer Hall walks on four straight pitches. Bases loaded. At this point, I began wondering how many runs Laredo would give up before a real pitcher came in. My guess was five.
Kenny Held hits a sac-fly to score Pineda. One run in, long way to go. One out. The “play defense” strategy may be working. One grounder and it’s probably over.
Keanon Simon singles on an 0-1 pitch. Flores scores. Two runs. One out. Hmm.
Brandon Pickney doubles on an 0-2 pitch. So much for the pitcher getting ahead in the count. Another run scores. Interesting.
Brian Myrow walks on six pitches. Bases loaded. Why look! Laredo has found a pitcher just sitting around. So, my five-run estimate was low, although there are four runs potentially on base.
Andres Rodriguez gets hit by a pitch. Ouch. Another run crosses the plate. Not a good start for a reliever. Still, we need four to tie, five to win and there is one away.
Juan Richardson strikes out on seven pitches. Damn. Double damn. Two outs.
Ryan Pineda (Hey! Didn’t we see him earlier in the inning?) looks at ball one and puts the next pitch over the left-field wall. Grand Freakin’ Slam. Tie Freakin’ game. This was the first curse of joy of the evening. This one hit may be why Laredo doesn’t have the manager of the year.
Flores struck out to end the inning, but a message had been sent. We can beat you, in spite of the umpires. We can torch your pitchers, given a chance.
So, we lost the game in the twelfth, 12-11. We lost the game, but I think we won the battle. If you can get eight runs in the bottom of the ninth on the team leading your division, you can beat them. A message has been sent. I don’t think we’ll see any more fielders pitching unless the bullpen is dry.
Tonight should be interesting.