It's not often that a backup catcher enters a game to pitch, but that's exactly what Rob Johnson in the eighth inning of the Mets' blowout loss to the Blue Jays last night.
Jon Niese had lasted just three innings, and Terry Collins had used three of his relief pitchers with the knowledge that Miguel Batista was starting the Mets' second game in Toronto. Despite scoring four runs in the top of the inning, the Mets were still down by eleven heading into the bottom of the eighth, and Johnson - who was playing in Buffalo until Josh Thole hit the disabled list with a concussion - took the hill. Let's have a look at what happened in case you tuned out before Johnson's pitching appearance.
First up was J.P. Arencibia, who had two home runs against Niese earlier in the game.
Johnson started Arencibia with an 83.9 mph "heater" to get ahead 0-1 in the count. He followed up with an 81.0 mph changeup in the strike zone, and Arencibia popped out to first base. One out.
Next up was former Phillie Ben Francisco.
Johnson missed the zone with an 84.9 mph fastball, but he got an 85.0 mph fastball right over the plate. The result? Another pop out, this time to second base.
Finally, Eric Thames stepped into the batter's box.
It took six pitches, but Johnson got Thames check-swinging on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, which was out of the strike zone by a good margin. Thanks to Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing, this is what it looked like:
Sure, the Mets got blown out, but watching a position player pitch brightens up a miserable loss, especially when he throws a one-two-three inning ending in a strikeout. Even though the Blue Jays were ahead by nine, Thames looked pretty upset that he had struck out. It was great.
All strike zone plots above are from the amazing Brooks Baseball.