By Brandon Speck
If there was ever a ray of sunshine in a blowout loss, Mitch Moreland provided it Tuesday night by throwing heat.
The former Amory and Mississippi State star plays first base, outfield and designated hitter for the Texas Rangers. He is 4-for-6 as a pinch hitter.
After Tuesday, add pitcher to that.
Down 12-1 in the eighth inning at Colorado, Moreland happily – and admittedly a bit nervously – trotted out to the mound.
“A little anxious, but not what I … I thought I would be really nervous,” Moreland said.
A go-to pitcher at Mississippi State, in 2007 there was a photo of Moreland clinching his fist after pitching the final out as the Bulldogs clinched a World Series berth.
“That’s always been a fond memory of mine when we clinched to go to the College World Series,” Moreland said, “something I’ll never forget and definitely being out there, it brought back some memories.”
Moreland hadn’t pitched since 2008, “a couple mop-up innings in Low-A and a little bit in instructs.” He took it as a treat and pitched a perfect eighth inning. He hit 95 MPH, consistently 92-94.
“I think I was actually higher than what I was in college. It felt good, felt like it was coming out all right,” Moreland said. “A little rusty. I had all the guys behind me telling me to let ‘em go, ‘Throw hard, throw hard.’ When you’ve got that, it kind of brings a smile to your face and you want to try to get some up there for them.”
It was the only inning the Rockies went in order and with arms that need rest, it may become a necessity.
Moreland said he has begged manager Ron Washington over the years when games were out of hand to get on the mound and said he knew with the amount of work the pitchers have had recently, a position player pitching was a possibility. Tuesday it was all Washington, who asked Moreland to go to the indoor batting cage and warm up with coach Bobby Jones.
“When he said it, I jumped on it,” Moreland said. “It was a lot of fun, something I’ll never forget.”
He looked very much the part.
Moreland talked Wednesday after a television obligation and said Tuesday’s postgame was a good bit busier around his locker.
“And today it’s been pretty crazy,” he added. “It was definitely fun, if you could have fun in a 12-1 loss.”