(Desperately) seeking relief

“Sometimes, when a position player has to pitch in a game, there’s some fun and enjoyment out of it … there wasn’t any of that (today). We were just trying to get through it and somehow survive it.” Those were the words spoken by then-interim manager John Gibbons after an 18-6 shellacking at the hands of the New York Yankees on August 28, 2004.

Menechino He was right. There wasn’t anything fun about having to use utilityman Frank Menechino as a pitcher after the Bronx Bombers tagged the Toronto bullpen for nine runs in the ninth inning. Unfortunate — because after all, it was the first time in 20 years that the Blue Jays let a position player take the mound.

Gibbons really had no choice. Trailing 9-6 in the top of the ninth, Dave Maurer allowed the Yanks to load the bases and then walked Hideki Matsui before being replaced by Kerry Ligtenberg. The appearance for Maurer, who failed to record an out, turned out to be his last in a major-league uniform.

Ligtenberg promptly gave up a grand slam to Ruben Sierra and another homer — on the next pitch — to Tony Clark. A pair of one-out singles to Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter followed, bringing up Gary Sheffield, who doubled for the second time in the inning. Gibbons was finally forced to remove the struggling Ligtenberg after the right-hander gave up a two-out solo homer to Alex Rodriguez that made it 18-6.

And so it was left to Menechino to try and record the final out. Though he had never pitched as an amateur, the utilityman had made one previous ’emergency appearance’ in the big leagues with the Oakland Athletics in 2000. That didn’t go well, however. Four earned runs in one inning gave him a career 54.00 ERA, which he brought to the mound for the Blue Jays on that forgettable Saturday afternoon.

Menechino noted after the contest that he used his ‘not-so-fast’ fastball and a few curves to get out of the inning. Despite allowing two straight singles, he managed to get Sierra to line out to shortstop. Make no mistake, Menechino simply wanted to help the team, not draw any attention to himself. In fact, he wanted to forget about it completely. “I don’t want to talk about it, guys,” he said after the game. “We got our (butts) kicked.”

2 Responses to “(Desperately) seeking relief”

  1. SomeBallyard Says:

    I actually think I remember that game.

    Michael Norton – Some Ballyard

  2. mmacdiar@uoguelph.ca Says:

    I was at that game!! Damn Lightenberg…Is he still in the bigs?

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