The Secret Weapon Jr.
Arriving in town Friday afternoon after a scorching-hot three-day drive from Seattle, lathered in sweat after toting a carload of junk up three flights of stairs, I promptly crashed on the couch, hoping to test the limits of the a/c in my new apartment and catch the end of the Cards-A’s game. Tuning in late in the seventh inning, I was disappointed to see the Redbirds in the midst of a six-run half-inning that would leave them trailing 14-3. Normally such a lopsided score would cause me to seek out Fresh Prince re-runs, but before I could change channels I was shocked to see...Scott Spiezio warming up in the bullpen.
In case you missed it, here is what followed:
Spiezio, the man who tormented Mariners fans (like me) by hitting .064 with an OPS of -23 in 2005 at the low low cost of $9.15 million, came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth, creating simultaneous glee and depression for fans. The former, in that Spiezio joined the likes of the legendary Jose "Secret Weapon" Oquendo -- not to mention Bobby Bonilla, Gary Gaetti, and, most recently Cody McKay in April 2004 -- as Cards position players to toe the rubber, resulting in the always-enjoyable battle by the opposing team not to strike out against a position player, and the latter in that Spiezio, who hadn’t taken the hill since high school, allowed 0 runs on 0 hits in one full inning of work, prompting the question: How were Looper (now on the DL), Cavazos and Jimenez the best three arms the Cards could muster before Speezer?
Maybe it was Spiezio’s sidearm delivery, which gave his ball a natural sink, or maybe it was the persistent (but ignored) balking by repeatedly throwing the ball into his glove while toeing the rubber, but Spiezio’s one-pitch 92-mph fastball repertoire was much more effective than the slop his predecessors were slinging earlier in the game.
Perhaps the Cards ought to jettison the consistently crappy Jimenez (10.41 ERA in 23.1 IP) in favor of Spiezio. After all, with such innumerable late game pitch-hit/substitution possibilities, it’s a move La Russa should love.