3 Position Players Pitch For Cubs In Blowout

Tommy La Stella, Victor Caratini and Ian Happ each took the mound.

Bruce Levine
July 20, 2018 - 6:37 pm
Cubs infielder/outfielder Ian Happ pitches in relief.

Patrick Gorski/USA Today Sports

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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- In blowout losses, managers on the losing side always want to protect their bullpen and move on quickly to the next game.

Such was the case for Cubs manager Joe Maddon on Friday. Down 12-1 in the sixth inning of an eventual 18-5 loss to the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, Maddon turned to a series of position players to take the mound. First came infielder Tommy La Stella, then catcher Victor Caratini and finally infielder/outfielder Ian Happ. 

The Cubs using three position players to pitch in a game was the first time that had happened in MLB since 1979, when the Brewers did it, according to records. The Cubs hadn't previously even used two position players to pitch in a game since at least 1907, according to historian Ed Hartig.

"The guys who went into pitch had a little fun with it," Maddon said. "You are going to run into these moments sometimes. I have done this drill a lot of times. The positive among the bullpen, we did not use (Randy) Rosario, (Steve) Cishek, (Justin) Wilson, (Carl) Edwards or (Pedro) Strop. Even in a lopsided loss, it's OK in a perverse way."

The loss and odd use of position players came about after Cubs left-hander Jon Lester struggled mightily, allowing eight earns runs in three innings. His ERA rose to 3.14 after starting the day at 2.58.

Of the emergency soft-tossing relievers, Happ fared the best. La Stella allowed one run on three hits in 1 1/3 innings. Caratini allowed two runs on two hits in one inning. La Stella and Caratini each allowed homers.

Happ tossed a scoreless ninth, allowing one hit.

"I wish circumstances were different, but it was a pretty cool experience to be on the mound at Wrigley and to throw some pitches," Happ said. "It was cool.

"It was not the first time I lobbied for it. So I think the previous work (harassment of Maddon) was very important. Being the third guy up was very important too."

Happ allowed a double before getting out of the ninth inning unscored upon.

"The sinker was working for me," Happ said with a deadpan. "I tried to go four-seamers first. It did not work, so the sinker played."

Happ was asked if there was a competition between the three position players as to who the best position player was.

"Yes," Happ said. "I won. It feels good to have the highest velo of any position player and also to put up a zero."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.​​​