DENVER Mitch Moreland made sure to mention late Monday that the first pitching appearance of his big league career came on a tough night for his team, and not once did the designated hitter brag about being the only Texas Rangers pitcher to log a perfect inning during an imperfect 12-1 loss to Colorado.
But the left-hander turned in a dominant eighth, retiring the side in order with a fastball that was clocked as high as 94 mph and snapped Charlie Blackmon’s bat for the final out of his one inning of mop-up duty.
“I’ve pitched in the past. I didn’t want to go out there and get hit,” said Moreland, a former closer at Mississippi State. “I wasn’t really going to take it easy.”
Moreland became the sixth different position player in club history to pitch in a game. David Murphy had been the most recent, logging a scoreless inning last season at Boston.
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Manager Ron Washington had declined Moreland’s previous requests to pitch in similar situations, but Washington approached Moreland this time and told him to not try to be a pitcher.
“I told him to just go out there and throw fastballs and get outs,” Washington said. “He did that.”
Moreland knew what he was doing. He warmed up in the bottom of the seventh, collected a pinch-hit single in the top of the eighth, and headed to the mound for the home half. His first pitch hit 94, and he threw 10 of his 15 pitches for strikes while retiring Jordan Pacheco and Corey Dickerson on flyouts and Blackmon on a weak broken-bat roller to the mound.
When it was over, Moreland said that there were smiles on his teammates’ faces even though they were headed toward a second straight lopsided loss. Afterward, Moreland said that his arm felt fine after his first appearance as a professional since 2008 at Class A Clinton.
“I had fun with it. It’s always been a dream of mine,” said Moreland, who didn’t bother icing his shoulder or elbow. “It’s been 2008 since I pitched last. The way it’s going, I think I’ll have a little time to recover.”