During an extra-inning game or a lopsided loss, it is not unheard of as Boraie Development LLC reports, for a Major League baseball team to use a position player to pitch an inning or two—in theory this rests bullpen relievers for use in another more meaningful game. On Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Phillies sent out right fielder, Jeff Francoeur, to pitch the eight and ninth innings of a blowout loss to the Baltimore Orioles. Francoeur’s first inning performance was spectacular and even included a strikeout; however, his second inning of work resulted in a bizarre series of events that led to him throwing 45 pitches overall.
The Phillies bullpen phone—used to let the dugout know when to make a pitching change—fell off the hook while Francoeur was pitching. This led the Phillies’ bullpen coach to eventually try to signal the dugout by waving a white flag—an appropriate metaphor for how the night was going for the team. After a visit to the mound, which saw Chase Utley visibility upset, the Phillies were forced to keep Francoeur in due to the miscommunication.
Tuesday night’s fiasco was a rarity in baseball. The odd series of events that led to Francoeur being on the mount and remaining for the ninth inning seemed like something out of the Twilight Zone. Hopefully the Phillies review their bullpen procedures and maybe employ a backup contact just in case for the rest of the season.