Red Sox: Mitch Moreland tosses scoreless inning in relief

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 24: Mitch Moreland
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 24: Mitch Moreland /

Boston Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland was used to pitch the ninth inning of Friday night’s lopsided loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

When one of your pitching staff’s best innings comes from a position player, it’s probably been a bad night. That was the case for the Boston Red Sox when they turned to first baseman Mitch Moreland to pitch the ninth inning of Friday night’s loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

The night had been a disaster all around. Starter Rick Porcello was shelled for 11 runs, only four of which were earned thanks to a season-high five errors committed by the Red Sox. Joe Kelly and Blaine Boyer couldn’t stop the bleeding, combining to cough up another five runs.

Boston’s bullpen finally found some stability with Robby Scott pitching a clean eighth inning, but by that point the team trailed 16-3. Rather than burn another arm with an afternoon game looming the next day, manager John Farrell took an unorthodox approach.

Moreland didn’t volunteer to pitch, but he didn’t turn down the manager’s request either.

"“Yeah, sure,” Moreland told reporters of his conversation in the dugout with Farrell. “Haven’t done it in awhile. I’m happy to go out there and try it out.”"

The veteran first baseman is no stranger to the mound. He was an outstanding two-way player as a senior at Amory High School in Mississippi, posting a 7-1 record and 0.53 ERA. Granted, that was a long time ago.

While his pitching days are far behind him, Moreland does have some experience on the mound at the big league level. He pitched a clean inning for the Texas Rangers in 2014. Not bad for a guy pitching in a game for the first time since high school.

"“I didn’t want to go out there and get hit, but it’s been awhile,” Moreland said. “I tried to keep it over the plate as much as I could and get us through it.”"

Moreland threw 10 of his 14 pitches for strikes, showing decent control for someone who doesn’t take the mound on a regular basis. He struck out the first batter he faced, followed by a weak grounder to the shortstop.

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Baltimore’s Trey Mancini and Chris Davis hit back-to-back singles to put Moreland in a jam with two-outs. Showing the poise of a veteran, Moreland reared back for a 94 mph fastball that jammed Mark Trumbo, resulting in an inning-ending ground out.

The scoreless inning was more than the Red Sox could have hoped for under the circumstances, but let’s pump the breaks on any plans of adding another lefty to the bullpen. Moreland isn’t in any rush to step back on the hill again. Smacking doubles and providing Gold Glove caliber defense at first base is his priority.

Moreland risked injury and embarrassment by pitching for the first time in years, all because he knew it was in the best interest in the team. Stepping up to pitch one inning meant keeping the arm fresh of another reliever who may be needed for the next game.

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Moreland stepping up to give his team a better shot at winning the next one was a selfless act that shows what a great teammate he is. The leadership in the Red Sox clubhouse has been questioned at times this year. When it comes to leading by example, Moreland has proven that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to contribute.