Outfielder Ryan Rua shines as a pitcher for Rangers
A Texas Rangers record fell at Globe Life Park on Monday night, and it’s not really the kind they ever wanted to see broken.
The Rangers used two position players on the mound for the first time in the franchise history during a 15-3 loss to the Oakland A’s, and outfielders Carlos Tocci and Ryan Rua were the only two pitchers to not allow a run.
Left-handers Cole Hamels (seven), Matt Moore (six) and Alex Claudio (two) had been ineffective through 7 1/3 innings when manager Jeff Banister sent Tocci to the mound.
The outfielder, who has been mostly glued to the Texas bench as a Rule 5 selection, made retired both batters he faced to end the eighth, and he was replaced for the start of the ninth by Rua.
“It been awhile, since college when I played shortstop and closed things out,” Rua said. “But I was just trying to work fast and get outs and get off the field.”
The Rangers told Rua to not throw hard, but the right-hander hit 91 mph on the radar gun and needed only eight pitches in a perfect inning. Tocci topped out in the low 80s.
Tocci and Rua became the 14th and 15th position players to pitch for the Rangers, and their appearances were the 15th and 16th time a position player has pitched. Infielder Adam Rosales pitched twice in 2015.
Manager Jeff Banister said that the Rangers were planning to use Rua in the ninth but sent Tocci to the bullpen to warm up as Claudio struggled in the eighth. Claudio recorded only one out and left with runners at the corners.
Former Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who hit a grand slam off Hamels in the second inning, hit a weak pop to shallow right field and Rougned Odor misplayed it. Rua, the right fielder at the time, fired the ball home to get an out at the plate.
Tocci then got Marcus Semien on a liner to left field.
Rua’s 1-2-3 ninth inning included a strikeout of A’s prospect Franklin Barreto on a 75-mph off-speed pitch.
“They did a heck of a job,” Banister said. “Both of those guys went out there and threw some strikes, got some outs. They didn’t give up any runs.