Lefty O’Doul was a major-league outfielder for 11 seasons, in the 1920s and 1930s. After that he went on to a long career managing in the Pacific Coast League, then an important minor league with a degree of independence from the big leagues.
In 1956, at age 59, with roster rules much more casual than they are now, he put himself into a game as a pinch-hitter, and promptly boomed a triple over the heads of the outfielders. As to how he did that, he said:
“A triple. Fifty-nine years old. How about that?” O’Doul later enthused to baseball historian Lawrence Ritter. “Right there -- 40 years too late -- I learned the secret of successful hitting. It consists of two things. The first is clean living, and the second is to bat against a pitcher who’s laughing so hard that he can hardly throw the ball.”
And that, I think, is the only way to approach Friday afternoon’s 18-5 Cubs loss to the Cardinals. Between the three-hour, 54-minute game time, 28 hits, 15 walks and 23 runs, and three position players pitching for the Cubs, all you could do was laugh. The position-player thing hadn’t been done in quite some time:
#Cubs (La Stella, Caratini & Happ): first team to use 3 position player pitchers in a game since the Brewers 8/29/1979 (Sal Bando, Jim Gantner & Buck Martinez)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 20, 2018
#Cubs have not used two position players to pitch in a game since at least 1907 (thanks to Ed Hartig)— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 20, 2018
And thus, I present to you as a permanent record of this highly entertaining game that counts as only one loss in the standings, my scorecard from this afternoon:
(For a larger version of the image above, click here.)
You know, once the Cubs were down 15-1, I figured we might as well see some history, but Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt either didn’t know or didn’t care that Matt Carpenter had just tied a major-league record by hitting three home runs and two doubles in a game. He’s just the second player to do that. The first was also in the ballpark — Kris Bryant did that for the Cubs during his MVP season, June 27, 2016 against the Reds at Cincinnati. But Shildt pulled Carpenter after he had amassed 16 total bases — that sets a record for a leadoff batter, which broke a mark that was set by Davey Lopes, at Wrigley Field, August 20, 1974, when Lopes hit three homers, a double and single in an 18-8 Dodgers win over the Cubs.
The 18 runs was the most scored by a visiting team at Wrigley since September 5, 2010, when the Mets beat the Cubs by the same score, 18-5.
Historic things like this can be fun when your team is getting crushed. So can all the position players pitching. Tommy La Stella touched 77 miles per hour with his fastball. Consider this: that’s only 10 miles per hour slower than some of Kyle Hendricks’ fastball offerings. (And if you think that’s a slam to Hendricks, I’d think that some talk like that was probably going on in the Cubs clubhouse after the game.)
Victor Caratini was going along well on the mound until he allowed a two-run homer to Yairo Munoz, and there’s no shame in that, because the Cardinals rookie had five homers in 151 career at-bats coming into this game and his previous long ball was off Madison Bumgarner.
So in the end, the only Cubs “pitcher” who wasn’t scored on was Ian Happ, who shut the Cardinals down in the ninth inning.
It rained a couple of times, once quite hard for about two minutes. You might not have noticed that because it was during an inning break. Despite the dire forecasts of all-day rains, it was pretty nice most of the afternoon. Well, the weather was, anyway. not the Cubs baseball.
These things happen. And as I said, all you can do is laugh when this kind of game crops up, understand that it counts as just one loss in the standings, and Joe Maddon’s creative use of three position players as pitchers saved the bullpen for Saturday’s doubleheader, which is likely more important than this one game.
Tyler Chatwood will start the afternoon game Saturday. That’s the makeup game for the April 16 rainout. Luke Weaver will start the day game for the Cardinals. That game begins at 12:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage for that one is on WGN.
And trust me. It’ll be much better than this one. Heroes & Goats from Thursday night’s win, a much happier event, will post here at 8 p.m. CT.