Home > Uncategorized > Brian McCann Engages In A Little Pinch-Hit History

Brian McCann Engages In A Little Pinch-Hit History

Let me start with something I stole from ESPN just as I began writing this post: Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann became the seventh player in the past 10 seasons to hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning and a game-winning homer in extra innings today against the Houston Astros.

But that’s not why I began writing this post.

With recorded history of such stuff going to back to 1919, McCann is the one player to ever pull off such a winning feat in his only two plate appearances after entering the game as a pinch hitter.

Wandy Rodriguez was outstanding for eight shutout innings and 113 pitches. He allowed five hits, two walks and struck out six. Former Yankees great Mark Melancon came in to pick up the save, and after Hunter Pence’s wall-crashing catch — with a little cockiness thrown in for those down the right-field line who probably heckled him all afternoon — it didn’t look like the Braves’ day.

One out away from being held scoreless at home by the Astros for the time since 1995, the Braves sent McCann to the plate in place of David Ross. He cracked one to left-center field that landed barely beyond the wall to tie the score.

He stayed in the game at catcher and crushed that junk from Mark Fulchino in the 11th.

Now, the group of non-starting players who have hit two homers in a game is exclusive enough. Only 28 players have accomplished that, the most recent prior to today being Ryan Howard in 2006. No pinch hitter has gone 3-for-3 with home runs.

The list of those who have indeed hit two homers in two plate appearances is even slimmer. Only 13 players have done that. But most of that list contains home runs that were pretty much irrelevant to the game’s result.

Some of the close calls:

May 28, 1994: Kirk Gibson comes in to hit two home runs for the Tigers — a three-run shot to tie the game in the seventh and a solo blast to give them the lead in the top of the ninth. But the Twins tie it in the bottom of the ninth with an unearned run and win it in the 10th on a Steve Dunn double. Who’da thunk that Kirk Gibson would have a knack for pinch-hit home runs?!

May 10, 1992: Jeff Bagwell ties it in the eighth with a solo shot against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the 10th, he tacks on another home run to break the 4-4 tie. Casey Candaele added an RBI single as the Astros went on to win, 6-4. As much as I would like to give my boy Bagwell the benefit of the doubt, that doesn’t match up to what McCann did Tuesday or, more importantly, when he did it.

April 13, 1986: The Padres’ Marvell Wynne came as close as anyone to making what McCann did a duplicate. He hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth against the Reds. But in his first at-bat, back in the seventh inning, his home run off of Tom Browning merely pulled San Diego to within one run. Wah-wahhh.

Wynne hit 40 home runs in his eight-year career.

Aug. 12, 1985: The Cubs’ Thad Bosley hit a game-tying three-run homer against the Expos and followed with a two-run winner in Chicago’s last time at bat. But it lacked some sizzle since Bosley’s second home run came in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Cubs the lead but not the instant win. Plus, that tying shot occurred in the top of the sixth. A yawner compared to McCann.

June 18, 1961: The Angels’ Del Rice opened the ninth by hitting a home run to tie the game against the A’s at 3-3. In the top of the 11th inning, he hit another homer off of Norm Bass, who threw a complete game. The Angels won, 5-3. But it is without the walk-off excitement.

That’s no match for McCann.

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