Baseball is always at its weirdest in deep extra innings, and thanks to Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Vince Velasquez, we have another point of evidence for that axiom. In the 14th inning of Friday’s game against the Chicago White Sox, Velasquez did something no pitcher had done in nearly 39 years: he recorded an outfield assist:
Velasquez gunned down White Sox first baseman José Abreu to preserve a 3-3 tie in the top of the 14th, in the process becoming the first pitcher to record an outfield assist since Bobby Castillo did it on September 10, 1980, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Velasquez hadn’t played in the outfield since he was a teenager, but he did a good job of cosplaying a traditional position player in throwing out Abreu with a 94.7 mph rocket.
Velasquez was playing in left because the Phillies had used up all their available pitchers and position players in previous innings, as tends to happen in extras. The 27-year-old starting pitcher had faced the Giants on Wednesday, and had partaken in a bullpen session on Friday, so he wasn’t able to take the mound. Instead, manager Gabe Kapler put outfielder Roman Quinn on the mound in the 14th for his second pitching appearance of the year, and that’s when all hell broke loose.
Alas, Velasquez’s heroics weren’t enough to give the Phillies a much-needed win at home; the White Sox were able to snag a run in the top of the 15th, though Philadelphia’s makeshift left fielder almost came up big there once more: Chicago’s Leury Garcia barely—and I do mean barely—beat Velasquez’s throw.
(Come for the near put-out in the video above, and stay for Velasquez’s diving catch to the end the 15th.)
Garcia’s tally would turn out to be the game-winning run, as the White Sox won 4-3, dropping the Phillies down to one game back of the Cubs and Nationals for the National League wild-card slots.