Reserve Infielder Solves Royals’ Pitching Problems

After seeing the Detroit Tigers put up 19 runs through eight innings of play against Luke Hochevar, Robinson Tejeda, Jimmy Gobble and Leo Nunez - all guys listed with the word “Pitcher” next to their name in the Kansas City Royals’ media guide - manager Trey Hillman decided to go in a different direction in the ninth inning.

Tony Pena Jr Pitches

Trailing 19-4, Hillman must have wanted to save the arms of a pitching staff with a collective ERA of 4.68 (2nd worst in the AL) for a more meaningful game - like “Dodge Buck Night” on August 8th against the Minnesota Twins, where hot dogs, peanuts and soft drinks are just a $1 each. (In this struggling economy, that’s a meaningful game even if the Royals are 11 games back.)

With very few options remaining, the manager turned to reserve infielder Tony Pena Jr. to follow up Gobble’s 10-run debacle in the eighth to close out the game.

Pena pitched a perfect ninth, including a strike out of Ivan Rodriguez. While the quartet of Hochevar, Tejeda, Gobble and Nunez are not household names (unless one of them is related to you), they’re still big league pitchers. Now they’re big league pitchers who got shown up by a reserve infielder.

After the game Pena told CBSSPORTS.COM, “Before I signed, I pitched and played short. Trey (Hillman) asked me if I wanted to pitch and I said sure.”

Trey may be asking the son of the former Royals manager if he wants to pitch more often.