We know the Red Sox were strapped for pitchers Sunday, and we know they had no choice except to turn to a position player in the 17th inning against the Orioles. . . but did it have to be Darnell McDonald?
Since 1952 the Red Sox have used 10 non-pitchers on the mound, and McDonald's been the worst of the bunch. He's done it twice (he also pitched last Aug. 26 against Oakland) and, in his two innings, has allowed three hits and four runs, with four walks and a strikeout. That's an 18.00 ERA and a 3.5 WHIP. It would have been worse Sunday, too, if Jarrod Saltalamacchia hadn't throw out Wilson Betemit trying to steal for the first out of Baltimore's three-run 17th inning.
Compare that to Nick Green, who pitched two hitless, scoreless innings (albeit with three walks) in a 9-5 loss to the White Sox on Aug. 27, 2009. Or Bill Hall, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth on May 28, 2010 as the Sox lost to the Royals, 12-5. Steve Lyons (July 21, 1991 against the Twins), Andy Tomberlin (May 20, 1994 at Minnesota), Mike Benjamin (June 16, 1997 at Detroit) and Jonathan Van Every (April 30, 2009 at Tampa Bay) also turned in scoreless outings. And Dave McCarty did it twice in 2004: June 12 against the Angels and Oct. 3 at Baltimore.
(On the other hand, Danny Heep and Dusty Brown, like McDonald, surrendered runs, and both McCarthy and Van Every had other outings in which they were scored upon).
None of those guys were available to Bobby Valentine on Sunday, granted. But he did have another option.
"Adrian Gonzalez really wanted to pitch, just for the record," the manager told reporters after the game. "And for the record, I didn't put him out there."
Maybe next time, Bobby?