In the first installment of this series, posted yesterday, Anthony Young relieved starter Jim Bullinger to post a four-inning save. Bullinger got the “win” in that game.
Just a few days short of a year later, it was Bullinger, who had been removed from the rotation earlier in 1996, posting a four-inning save in relief of Frank Castillo against the Padres at Wrigley Field.
In that game, June 16, 1996, the Cubs had again taken a big early lead, and after five innings led 8-3, with a pair of four-run innings, one of them off Fernando Valenzuela, who was in his second-to-last season.
Here’s why manager Jim Riggleman took Castillo out in favor of Bullinger, quoted by Bill Jauss in the Tribune:
“I know Jim isn’t going to buy this because he wants to start,” said Riggleman, “but he can be extremely valuable in various roles: starting when the need arises and pitching late and middle and long relief.”
“That reminds me,” Bullinger said, “of what [former manager] Tom Trebelhorn said to me. He told me I was a victim of my versatility.”
Bullinger threw four innings and allowed one run on two hits, with four strikeouts, and h Cubs won the game 8-4. The save turned out to be the last of his MLB career (he had 11 in all), and 1996 marked the end of his Cubs career. He pitched for the Expos in 1997 and Mariners in 1998 and then transitioned into a long career in indy ball, where he was still pitching as late as 2004.
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and Saturday is Christmas Day. This series will resume on Sunday, December 26.