San Diego Padres pitcher James Shields had a very rough outing on Tuesday. He didn't make it through the third inning and was pulled after allowing 10 earned runs. It was a bad result for Shields, the Padres and San Diego fans. But, out of his failures came something magical. Trailing 16-4, the Padres gave the ball to catcher/outfielder/infielder Christian Bethancourt and the result was brilliantly enjoyable.
Position players pitching is always fun for fans, but few position players pitch quite like Bethancourt. He threw 26 pitches and every one was an adventure. His fastest and slowest pitches were separated by 43 mph. At his peak, he was unleashing 96 mph fastballs. In the worst case, he was lobbing knuckleballs -- or "BP fastballs" as he called them -- that came up well short of even reaching the plate.
Imagine stepping into the batter's box to face a guy throwing in the mid-90s with literally no clue where the ball may end up. Via Brooks Baseball:
Some left, some right, some high, some low. Bethancourt may not have been very accurate, but he certainly kept the hitters on their toes. And at times the results were pretty good!
Bethancourt managed to get two outs without allowing a hit. Sure, he did walk two batters and hit another one, but no Mariner recorded a hit. Thanks to some relief help, Bethancourt didn't allow a run either.
A pitching display of this level couldn't end by him simply handing the ball to his manager and trotting to the dugout. Nope, Bethancourt handed the ball to the second baseman, then took his position like it was little league. From catcher early in the game to left field to pitcher to second base.
This is the single best inning of the baseball season thus far. Thank you, Christian Bethancourt.