In a weekend series that has already been quite interesting and noteworthy, the Sunday night finale between the Dodgers and Rays features yet another quirk. Tampa Bay starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson is bating eighth for the Rays, the first hurler to do so in Rays franchise history.
The Rays actually had a pitcher bat somewhere other than ninth once, but that was more of a lineup card screw up. On May 17, 2009 pitcher Andy Sonnanstine batted third when manager Joe Maddon accidentally listed two third basemen on his lineup card, forfeiting the designated hitter.
The last pitcher to bat eighth at Dodger Stadium was Zach Duke of the Pirates on May 1, 2010. The last Dodgers pitcher to bat eighth was Randy Wolf on Aug. 6, 2009, but manager Don Mattingly said he would consider batting Zack Greinke eighth if the circumstances were right, such as Dee Gordon at shortstop (like tonight) but against a left-handed pitcher.
"With Dee, against a left-handed pitcher, it would make more sense to hit Zack eighth. Zack can really hit. You can't look at him like a pitcher. I would use this guy as a pinch hitter. Every day he's available, we have him spiked up. We don't do it the day before he pitches ever, and it kind of depends on the day ever," Mattingly said. "You don't feel like you're down a guy because we'd use him."
Greinke is hitting .385/.467/.436 with five walks on the season, in 49 plate appearances. He has been used as a pinch hitter once this season, and walked. The Dodgers franchise record for batting average by a pitcher, with at least 50 plate appearances, is .383 by Earl Yingling in Brooklyn in 1913. Yingling also holds the franchise record with a .464 OBP that same year.
Time: 5:05 p.m.