Rays pitch a catcher in marathon 16-inning game, nearly blow 5-run lead

Ryan Young
Yahoo Sports Contributor

Fighting through 15 innings on Tuesday night in Miami, the Tampa Bay Rays had run out of pitchers.

They were tied with the Marlins 4-4, though thanks to five big runs in the top of the 16th inning the Rays finally bust the game open. However they still had a problem. They needed a pitcher for the final half inning at Marlins Park.

But instead of sending out reliever Jose Alvarado, the Rays made a strange move. Instead, they sent out catcher Jesus Sucre.

Tampa Bay Rays backup catcher Jesus Sucre delivers a pitch during the 16th inning of the team’s baseball game against the Miami Marlins, early Wednesday, July 4, 2018, in Miami. The Rays defeated the Marlins 9-6 in 16 innings. (AP)

Now, it’s not Sucre’s first time on the mound — it’s actually his third career pitching appearance.

But still, even with the five-run lead, it’s kind of a strange move for the Rays to send a catcher to the mound late in a 16 inning game.

Sucre, though, didn’t last long. The Marlins quickly hit three singles off of six pitches to load up the bases with no outs, almost instantly putting the game in jeopardy again.

Bryan Holaday then hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring one run for the Marlins. At that point, the Rays called it, bringing in Alvarado for the final two outs of the game.

It was, though, nearly too late. The Marlins scored once more off a J.T. Realmuto ground ball, and then pitcher Dan Straily reached on a walk. Finally, though, with the game-tying run at the plate, the Rays picked up the final out to end the game and take the 9-6 win more than five hours after the game had started started.

I guess it just goes to show that even when you run low on pitchers, it’s still generally not a good idea to send a position player to the mound — even if you’re in the 16th inning of a marathon game.

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