There’s not much good that can be said about last night’s 17-5 Cardinals loss to the Cubs. It was ugly, period, and the sole bright spot may have been Daniel Descalso coming in to pitch with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. It’s too bad that Mike Matheny let Randy Choate stay in the game and struggle long enough to allow six runs. Because, once Descalso came trotting out to the mound, at least the crowd finally got into the game.
That’s the beauty of watching a position player pitch. Sometimes horrible blowout games happen — it’s a fact of baseball life. And the entertainment value of staying with a game like that is seeing a non-pitcher out there.
Obviously, this blog’s name is a tribute to the Cardinals’ master of position player pitching. And I did see Aaron Miles pitch in person — the last time the Cardinals gave up 17 runs in a game, actually, on Aug. 3, 2010, against the Astros. The photo is from that night.
Miles made five appearances on the mound for the Cardinals and pitched five full innings, with a career 3.60 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. The five appearances are the third-highest total for a non-pitcher since 1900, behind Vance Law and Eddie Lake. And, courtesy of a post from the early days of AMF in January 2011, here’s a look at Aaron’s outings. (Click the date for the MLB.com article on each game.)
1. Aug. 4, 2007
Nationals 12, Cardinals 1
Cardinals lowlights: Joel Piniero gave up five runs in one inning, though only four earned on his own error. Mike Maroth (remember him?) also gave up five runs, though only two earned on Adam Kennedy’s error. Brad Thompson gave up the final two runs.
Aaron highlights: One inning pitched, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, three batters faced, nine pitches. It was his first time pitching since high school.
2. September 20, 2007
Astros 18, Cardinals 1
Cardinals lowlights: All earned runs this time, and look at the list of pitchers – Braden Looper (five runs), Andy Cavazos (four), Kelvin Jimenez (four), Brian Falkenborg (three), Aaron (two).
Aaron lowlights: Yes, it was Aaron’s worst pitching outing. Hit by pitch, home run, single, single, Brad Ausmus grounded into a double play, pop fly. His ERA jumped to 9.00, but he only threw 16 pitches – and 11 were strikes.
3. June 13, 2008
Phillies 20, Cardinals 2
Cardinals lowlights: Another interesting list of pitchers and runs allowed – Todd Wellemeyer (eight), Ron Villone (six), Mark Worrell (three), Russ Springer (one) and Ryan Franklin (two).
Aaron highlights: Once more the Cards best pitcher. One inning, 10 pitches, seven strikes, three up, three down.
4. Aug. 3, 2010
Astros 18, Cardinals 4
Cardinals lowlights: Aaron’s error at third led to the first four runs scoring. But it still wasn’t Jaime Garcia’s night, with four earned runs too (eight total). Mitchell Boggs gave up five, Dennys Reyes three and Mike MacDougal two.
Aaron highlights: This is the game I was at, and seeing him pitch was our reward (so to speak) for being among the few who stayed until the end on a night when it was 90-plus degrees at game time. Once the game got out of control, we were hoping he’d get the chance and even talked about how he was likely wishing for the opportunity as he stood there at third base for pitching change after pitching change. Finally, in the ninth inning, Aaron and our wishes all came true. He got three outs with 10 pitches, only allowed one hit (damn you, Geoff Blum) and, as became his habit, was of course the most effective Cards pitcher of the night. In the bottom of the ninth, he came to bat – introduced as “pitcher Aaron Miles.” We cheered loudly. Then he grounded out.
Pirates 7, Cardinals 2
Cardinals lowlights: Not a blowout like all the other games, but the Cards were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Jeff Suppan gave up four runs, Mike MacDougal three.
Aaron highlights: Another hit allowed but otherwise continued efficiency as he threw only nine pitches, with six strikes.
Two of Aaron’s former teams, the Cubs and the Cardinals, are back at it tonight, with game time 7:15 p.m. Central. Jake Arrieta goes for the Cubs, while Adam Wainwright tries to become the National League’s first seven-game winner. Let’s hope there’s no need to see the rare position-player-pitching phenomena again.
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates and like AMF on Facebook if you don’t already.