Typically, when a baseball team is losing by ten runs, it doesn’t need a lot of symbolism to convey how badly a particular game is going. But just in case, here’s all that needs to be said about last night’s 15–5 Yankees loss to the Rays: Backup right-fielder/first-baseman Nick Swisher not only pitched an inning, but was the most effective Yankees pitcher of the night.
Starter Chien-Ming Wang was terrible (again), forcing the bullpen to pitch seven innings, a day after four relievers pitched in Kansas City. So, with the game out of hand, Swisher became the first Yankee position player to take the mound since knuckleballing Wade Boggs did so in 1997. And guess what? He wasn’t half bad, striking out one in a scoreless eighth inning.
And thus the legend of Nick Swisher grows a bit more: Not only is he popular in the clubhouse and always good for a fun interview, he’s becoming a fan favorite, thanks not only to his free spirit but to a fast start (three home runs and ten RBI so far). He really couldn’t have appeared to enjoy himself any more last night, even asking for the ball to be taken out of play after his strikeout. (Michael Kay, from atop his soapbox, wondered aloud if Swisher was showing up strikeout victim Gabe Kapler by doing so, but we’re pretty sure it’s not technically possible to show a guy up when his team is winning by ten runs.) Swisher, even more so than usual, had a smile on his face for the entire inning. In a blowout that bad, at least it was something to laugh at to keep from crying.