Note that many of these games occurred between 1986 and 1989, when major league teams voluntarily shortened their rosters to 24 from 25 to save money.
Pitchers who moved from pitcher to another position so that a different pitcher would have the platoon advantage (all pitchers righty except as noted):
New. Cory Gearrin, San Francisco Giants, September 9, 2016.
New. Travis Wood, Chicago Cubs, July 31, 2016.
1. Wesley Wright, Houston Astros, July 27, 2012.
Wright, one of three lefties in the Astros bullpen, was brought in to start the 8th inning with the Astros leading the Pirates 5-4. The first batter of the inning, lefty Alex Presley, grounded to second.
With righty Andrew McCutchen coming up, Wright was moved to RF, replacing Ben Francisco, and righty Wilton Lopez came in to pitch.
After McCutchen doubled, Wright returned to the mound, and Brian Bogusevic came in to play RF.
In the short team, the strategy worked. Righty Garrett Jones flied to center, and switch-hitting Neil Walker grounded to third to end the 8th. Wright stayed in for the top of the 9th, striking out lefty Pedro Alvarez.
Astros manager Brad Mills then went back to his bullpen, bringing in rookie right-hander Rhiner Cruz and his 6.88 ERA to face righty Michael McKendry. McKendry singled, and Cruz walked the next two batters. Mills then turned to rookie lefty Xavier Cedeno, who promptly allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score on a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch.
In the bottom of the 9th, Bogusevic, batting a power-light .217, fouled out to end the game.
2. Sean Marshall, Chicago Cubs, July 12, 2009.
Marshall, the only lefty in the Cubs bullpen, was brought in to face Cardinals lefty Chris Duncan with runners on 1st and 2nd and no outs down 4-2 in the top of the 9th. The Cardinals pinch-hit righty Nick Stavinoha for Duncan. Marshall proceded to walk Stavinoha, loading the bases.
The next three hitters due up were Brendan Ryan, a righty; Skip Schumaker, a lefty; and Colby Rasmus, a lefty.
Marshall was moved to LF, replacing Alfonso Soriano, and righty Aaron Heilman came in to pitch to Ryan.
The strategy proved successful. Heilman struck out Ryan. Marshall moved back to the mound and retired the next two hitters, pinch-hitting righty Jarrett Hoffpauir on a strikeout and Rasmus on a flyball to replacement LF Reed Johnson, who made a diving catch (actually trapped, but ruled an out).
The Cubs failed to score in the bottom of the 9th and lost 4-2.
3. Chris Resop, Atlanta Braves, April 3, 2008.
Mike Hampton, the scheduled Atlanta starting pitcher, was scratched just before game time, forcing the Braves to use long reliever Jeff Bennett as the emergency starter.
By the 10th inning, the Braves had used every reliever besides righty Resop and lefty Royce Ring. Resop was brought in to start the 10th; a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a walk/passed ball left runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out and lefty Adam LaRoche up to bat. Braves manager Bobby Cox wanted Resop to pitch any future extra innings, so he moved Resop to LF while bringing in Ring for the lefty-lefty matchup. The move worked in the short-term: Ring struck out LaRoche, and Resop was brought back in to face righty Xavier Nady. However, Nady singled, putting the Pirates ahead 4-3, and the Braves failed to score in the bottom of the 10th.
4. Jeff Nelson, Seattle Mariners, July 15, 1993.
Nelson, who had entered the game in the bottom of the 8th to face 3 righties, moved to LF (at Fenway!) with 2 outs and a runner on 1st, up 3-2, with lefty Dennis Powell (.159 lefty batting average against in 1993, vs. Nelson’s .354) coming in to face lefty Mike Greenwell. Powell would retire Greenwell on a pop-up. In the bottom of the 9th, Nelson returned to the mound, retiring 2 righty batters before being replaced by lefty Mike Hampton.
5. Roger McDowell, Los Angeles Dodgers, October 1, 1991.
McDowell came in to get the final 2 outs of the 8th inning, up 3-1. In the 9th, McDowell moved to LF, with lefty John Candelaria (.138 lefty BA against) brought in to face lefty Fred McGriff. After McGriff struck out, McDowell moved back to the mound to retire the final 2 hitters.
6. Les Lancaster, Chicago Cubs, June 13, 1990 (Game 1 of doubleheader).
The Cubs had lost 19-8 the day before, taxing the bullpen. The Cubs even used OF Doug Dascenzo to pitch in the 9th to save arms for the next day’s doubleheader.
Lancaster, a long reliever/spot starter, replaced starter Jeff Pico with 2 outs and a man on first in the 6th, up 8-5. Lancaster struck out Mark Carreon to retire the side, but immediately ran into trouble in the 7th, allowing 4 singles to the first 5 batters. The next two batters were lefties, so with the bases loaded, 1 out, and an 8-6 lead, lefty Paul Assenmacher (.223 lefty BA against) came in to pitch, with Lancaster moving to LF. Assenmacher was no better, giving up the lead with 2 singles and a walk, and was soon replaced by Lancaster without retiring a batter. Lancaster would pitch until he was replaced in the 9th, and allowed a remarkable 9 runs in relief.
7. Chuck Crim, Milwaukee Brewers, June 6, 1989.
Crim came in to try and close a 6-3 lead in the 9th, but ran into trouble, loading the bases with only 1 out. With switch-hitter Nelson Liriano and lefty Rob Ducey due up, the Brewers brought in lefty Tony Fossas, moving Crim to 1B. The move was unsuccessful, as Liriano singled to center, cutting the lead to 6-4. When the Blue Jays pinch-hit righty Tom Lawless for Ducey, Crim returned to the mound, and retired the final 2 batters for the save.
8. Keith Comstock, San Francisco Giants, June 17, 1987.
Comstock, a lefty, entered the game with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs, down 2-1 in the 6th, and after an intentional walk, got Ken Oberkfell to ground out to end the inning. After Comstock retired the first batter of the 7th, he was moved to RF and replaced on the mound by righty Randy Bockus to face righty Dale Murphy. However, Murphy greeted Bockus with a homer to center, and Comstock was brought back to pitch, only to give up singles to the next 2 batters.
9. Jeff Dedmon, Atlanta Braves, October 1, 1986.
Dedmon entered the game in the 7th with a man on 1st, 0 outs, and a 4-3 lead, and would retire two of the next three batters. With men on 1st and 2nd and 2 outs, and lefty Dave Parker (who inexplicably hit better off lefties than righties in 1986, but not the rest of his career) coming up, Dedmon moved to LF, with Paul Assenmacher taking his place on the mound. Parker singled to center, tying the game, and Dedmon returned to pitch.
Hampered by a shortened 24-man roster (likely the result of collusion among the owners), Whitey Herzog extended his bullpen by using this manuever 5 different times.
In the first game, up 5-2 in the 9th, with the bases loaded and 2 outs, Worrell moved to RF (not sure why, with a lefty coming up) and lefty Ken Dayley came in to face 185-pound rookie Barry Bonds. Bonds struck out to end the game.
In the second game, tied at 2 in the top of the 12th, with men on 1st and 2nd and 2 outs, Worrell moved to RF and lefty Ricky Horton came in to face lefty Greg Gross. Gross grounded out to end the inning, and Worrell would be pinch-hit for in the bottom of the 12th.
In the third game, up 3-2 in the 9th, with 0 outs, Worrell moved to RF and Dayley came in to face lefty Von Hayes. After Hayes struck out, Worrell would return to the mound, retiring the last 2 batters for the save.
In the fourth game, Game 6 of the 1987 National League Championship Series, up 1-0 in the 9th, with 1 out, Worrell moved to RF and Dayley came in to face lefty Harry Spilman. Dayley would retire righty pinch-hitter Chris Speier and switch-hitter Jose Uribe to end the game.
In the fifth game, tied at 4 in the 8th with the bases loaded and 1 out, Worrell moved to RF and Dayley came in to face lefty Mark Grace. Grace drove in what turned out to be the game-winning run with a force out, and Dayley stayed in to retire the final batter of the inning.
11. Tom Burgmeier, Boston Red Sox, August 3, 1980.
Up 6-4 in the 9th, with 2 outs and and man on 1st, lefty Burgmeier moved to LF (like Jeff Nelson, in Fenway) and righty Skip Lockwood came on to face righty Dave Roberts. Roberts fouled the first pitch down the left-field line, with Burgmeier giving it a “courtesy trot,” and three pitches later popped out to the catcher to end the game.
12. Kent Tekulve, Pittsburgh Pirates, September 1, 1979 (Game 1 of doubleheader).
Up 3-2 in the 9th, with 2 outs and a man on 1st, Tekulve moved to LF and lefty Grant Jackson came in to face lefty Darrell Evans. Evans flew out to left to end the game, with Tekulve making the catch.
13. Bill Wilson, Philadelphia Phillies, August 6, 1971.
Up 3-2 in the 8th, with 1 out, Wilson moved to 3B and lefty Joe Hoerner came in to face lefty Willie Stargell. After Stargell struck out, Wilson moved back to the mound and finished the game.
14. Jim Rittwage, Cleveland Indians, September 25, 1970.
Down 3-0 in the 4th, with 2 outs and men on 1st and 2nd, Rittwage moved to 3B and lefty Rick Austin came in to face lefty Boog Powell. Powell doubled to center, scoring both runners. Rittwage would return to the mound in the 5th inning and pitch through the 7th.
For the complete story of the July 6 game, read the McDowell entry in this post.
The September 2 game was similar. Down 1-0 in the 6th, with 1 out and men on 1st and 2nd, lefty McDowell moved to 1B and righty Dean Chance came in to face righties Frank Howard and Rick Reichardt. This time, however, both runners would score. In the 7th, McDowell returned to the mound and finished the game.
16. Wayne Granger, Cincinnati Reds, May 1, 1970.
Up 6-4 in the 9th, with 2 outs and a man on 1st, Granger moved to LF and lefty Don Gullett came in to face Willie Stargell. Stargell struck out to end the game.
In the first game, down 5-4 in the 8th, with 2 outs and a runner on 1st, Selma moved to 3B and lefty Joe Hoerner came in to face lefty Johnny Callison. Callison fouled out to the catcher to end the inning, and Selma would be pinch-hit for in the top of the 9th.
In the second game, up 3-2 in the 10th, with 2 outs and runners on 1st and 2nd, Selma moved to 3B and Hoerner came in to face lefty Willie Davis. Davis fouled out to the catcher to end the game.
In the third game, tied at 3 in the 9th, with 1 out and runners on 1st and 2nd, Selma moved to 1B and lefty Woodie Fryman came in to face lefty Jerry DaVanon (father of Jeff). DaVanon struck out, and Selma returned to the mound, striking out the next hitter to end the inning. Selma would also pitch the 10th, earning the victory in an 8-3 Phillie win.
18. Mike Paul, Cleveland Indians, June 7, 1968.
Paul, a lefty, entered the game in the 7th and was dominant. Over his first 2-2/3 innings of relief work, Paul struck out 6 of the 8 hitters he faced, though he did give up a solo homer that tied the game in the 8th. He would quickly redeem himself, however, by leading off the top of the 9th with a walk and eventually scoring the go-ahead run.
Despite Paul’s dominance, with 2 outs and nobody on in the 9th, with a 4-3 lead, he was moved to 1B and righty Stan Williams came in to face righty Bill Freehan. Freehan singled to left, and Paul returned to the mound to face lefty Dick McAuliffe, with Lee Maye entering the game to play 1B. Maye, an outfielder by trade, had never played 1B in the majors.
As luck would have it, McAuliffe grounded the ball toward Maye, who booted it, putting runners on 1st and 2nd. The error would be Maye’s only chance at 1B in his major league career. The next batter, right-handed Mickey Stanley, tripled to right, plating both runners and making Paul the hard-luck loser.
(Could you imagine if this game happened today? Indian manager Alvin Dark wouldn’t have lasted the week.)
19. Catfish Hunter, Kansas City A’s, June 18, 1967.
Up 8-4 with 2 outs and the bases loaded in the 9th, Hunter moved to 1B and lefty Tony Pierce came in to face lefty Gates Brown. Brown struck out to end the game.
20. Al McBean, Pittsburgh Pirates, August 18, 1965.
McBean entered the game up 8-3 in the 9th inning, with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 0 outs. He allowed 3 straight hits, cutting the lead to 8-6 with runners on 1st and 2nd. With lefty Joe Morgan due up, lefty Frank Carpin came in to pitch, with McBean moving to LF. After Morgan struck out, McBean returned to the mound, eventually recording the save in an 8-7 win.
21. Billy O’Dell, Milwaukee Braves, June 6, 1965 (Game 2 of doubleheader).
O’Dell, a lefty, entered the game in the 7th inning with 2 outs and runners on 1st and 2nd, up 6-1. He promptly gave up back-to-back singles, cutting the lead to 6-3, and was moved to 1B so righty Bob Sadowski could face righty Deron Johnson. (Sadowski had pitched 2 innings in Game 1 of the doubleheader, so he was not likely to pitch multiple innings.) Johnson singled to center, driving in another run, and O’Dell returned to the mound. O’Dell was infinitely more successful in his second stint, retiring the final 7 batters of the game to earn the save.
Note: #19 and 20 are quite possibly the only two times in baseball history where a pitcher originally entered the game in a situation where a save was impossible, yet wound up recording a save. Update: Retrosheet credits pre-1969 pitchers who finished a winning game but who were not the winning pitcher with a save, regardless of the game situation when they entered the game.
22. Ruben Gomez, New York Giants, August 4, 1957 (Game 1 of doubleheader).
Gomez had started the day before, but had been knocked out in the 2nd. The Giants won in 11 innings, but used 7 pitchers in doing so.
In the August 4 game, Gomez entered in the 7th and pitched well. However, in the 10th inning, nursing a 5-4 lead, Gomez allowed a walk and a single, sandwiched around two outs. With the tying run on 3rd, the Giants moved Gomez to LF and brought in lefty Jim Constable to face lefty pinch-hitter George Crowe. The strategy failed, with Crowe singling in the run, and Gomez returned to the mound. Gomez struck out the next hitter to end the inning, and would also pitch the 11th before leaving the game.
Pre-1957 example. Harry Dorish, Chicago White Sox, May 15, 1951.
The “29 League Pioneers on Hand,” including Connie Mack and Cy Young, were all players from the American League’s first season in 1901. Before the game, they were introduced individually and driven around the field in vintage 1901 automobiles. [We’ve seen this kind of thing often in the Selig era, but this one probably wasn’t accompanied by the music from The Natural.]
Up 7-6 in the bottom of the 9th inning, with Ted Williams leading off for the Red Sox, Dorish moved to 3B and lefty Billy Pierce came in. After Williams popped out to shortstop, Dorish returned to the mound, surrendering the lead in the 9th but recording the victory in the 11th.
Pre-1957 example. Tom Hughes, Washington Senators, May 13, 1909. Hat tip: Bob Timmermann at the Griddle.
The White Sox had runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out in the bottom of the 17th in a 1-1 game. A lefty pinch hitter, Mike Welday (whose story might be an interesting one; he died in Leavenworth, KS), was sent up; Washington brought in lefty Dolly Gray and sent Hughes to RF. After one ball, Chicago pinch hit righty Frank Owens for Welday; Washington manager Joe Cantillon wanted to bring Hughes back in to pitch, but the umpires forced Gray to finish out the at bat.
After Gray walked Owens, Hughes was brought back in and maintained the tie with consecutive ground outs. The game was then called due to darkness.