After watching his pitchers get lit up by the New York Mets for the second night in a row, Jim Leyland decided to bring in a position player to get the final out of the top of the ninth inning on Wednesday. Leyland took out David Purcey, who gave up four runs in one inning, and put in utility player Don Kelly.
Surprisingly enough, Kelly fared much better in his one-third of an inning out there than anybody else that stepped on the hill for the Tigers in this game. Kelly's first two pitches were balls, but his third one was a strike. After getting another strike thanks to a foul ball, Scott Hairston flew out to center field on a breaking ball thrown by Kelly. He faced one batter and got him out, which is all you could really ask for after how badly the Tigers' other pitchers performed in the last two games.
By pitching for the Tigers, Kelly became the team's first position player to do so since 2000, when Shane Halter pitched for Detroit. Kelly also became the first position player to pitch under Jim Leyland's watch since it happened in 1997 with the Marlins.
To say it was surprising to see Kelly come out and pitch would be an understatement, but trailing 16-9, Leyland must have figured, "What the hell, let's do it." It's not like Detroit had anything to lose, because this game was lost innings earlier with Detroit's bullpen unable to limit the damage after Phil Coke was pulled following a bad performance.
The good news for Detroit is that Justin Verlander is pitching on Thursday. If his recent starts are any indication, nobody but Verlander should have to pitch for the Tigers as they wrap up the series with the Mets.