The ninth inning of Thursday night’s Cubs-Reds game was a real circus, and I mean that in a good way. The Reds were down 12–5, they’d used four pitchers, and they were not coming back, so to finish the eighth and work the ninth they turned pitching duties over to Kyle Farmer, a second baseman. Farmer, God bless him, was throwing total grapefruits, pitches so loopy and slow that the broadcast’s radar couldn’t even pick up their speed. ESPN’s play-by-play registered no speed and no pitch type, which honestly feels about right.
After flummoxing Jason Heyward to end the eighth, Farmer faced Kyle Ryan to start the ninth, setting up the rare and somewhat surreal case of a position player pitching to a pitcher. Ryan lined out, then Kris Bryant offered at the first pitch of his at-bat and tapped a grounder to short for the second out. Catcher Victor Caratini looked at two of Farmer’s slowballs and then, on the third pitch, did a fun little double-step and ripped a single to left center. That brought Javy Báez to the plate. Báez, in the mood for a new challenge or possibly just some hijinks, was not going to let this moment pass without trying something silly of his own. Wearing his helmet backwards would be unsafe, and holding the bat upside down would be pointless, but standing in there in the wrong batter’s box is just right:
Báez, a lefty at everything in his life except baseball, took a mighty hack at Farmer’s first pitch and honestly got a pretty good chunk of it, skying a fly ball to center for the final out of the inning. Farmer finished his first career appearance on the mound with four outs, one hit, and a 0.00 earned run average, although that was significantly helped by Javy Báez being an absolute madman.