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This is Why I’ll Miss Baseball When I Die

It was the Nationals versus the Astros. It was perhaps the most meaningless game of the night. It wasn’t even a whole game, just a half of an inning. Yet, from it came history.

Tonight, we found the answer — at least the most recent one — to this question: Which pitcher won a game for a team that he wasn’t playing for?

The two teams got together Thursday before their regularly scheduled game in Houston for the resumption of their suspended game from May 5 in Washington.

But that was the Astros’ last visit to D.C. this season. So when the game picked up where it left off — in the bottom of the 11th inning with one out, a runner on first and the score tied, 10-10 — it was in Houston.

But here’s where it gets unique, as if Washington batting as the home team in Houston isn’t unique enough …

The runner on first base back on May 5 was Elijah Dukes. Well, he was demoted to Triple-A on July 1. As a pinch-runner at first, Nationals manager Manny Acta chose Nyjer Morgan, who wasn’t even a part of the Nationals until a June 30 trade sent him from the Pirates to Washington.

The rest of the inning unfolded this way: A single by Josh Willingham moved Morgan to second. Josh Bard followed as a pinch-hitter and smacked what looked to be a potential inning-ending double play to second base. But shortstop Miguel Tejada’s turn throw to first base went over Lance Berkman’s head. Morgan scored from second and the Nationals won, 11-10.

Line of the night goes to MASN TV broadcaster Bob Carpenter: “Time of the game … seven minutes.”

This is what the celebration from a walk-off win looks like when you're playing on the road.

This is what the celebration from a walk-off win looks like when you're playing on the road.

And now the answer to that question at the beginning of this post: Joel Hanrahan.

He was the pitcher of record after coming into the game to pitch the top of the 11th two months ago. He got the win for the Nationals, even though he’s a Pirate now. He was one of the players sent to Pittsburgh in return for Morgan!

So, let’s recap: The Nationals won a home game in Houston on a walk-off force out. The ball was hit by a player who was playing in the minor leagues when the game began. The winning run was scored by a player who was a Pirate when the game began. The Nationals’ winning pitcher has been playing for another team since the start of the month.

I know that players switching teams between the beginning and ending of a suspended games has happened before, but I can’t remember one that had so much coincidence fall into place like this game Thursday. Looks like I have some research to do.

Here is a good article about Hanrahan and some nice tidbits from the Elias Sports Bureau near the bottom.

The Nationals lost that regularly scheduled game, 9-4, meaning that Washington won a game at home and lost a game on the road in the same night without leaving the ballpark.

In any case, baseball, I can’t justly express my love for you right now. It are these situations that make me burn for you eternally.

The saying is that you will see something you’ve never seen before every time you go to a baseball game.

Fans in Houston, I envy you.

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  1. July 10, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Dude, what about Alan Embree picking up the victory for the Rockies without throwing a pitch the other night?

    It was awesome.

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