Remember the scene in NLCS Game 1: Jim Thome draws a pinch-hit walk. Dodger manager Joe Torre already used Orlando Hudson as a pinch hitter. He needs a pinch runner. He doesn’t want to burn Juan Castro or Juan Pierre.
He points to Randy Wolf – the Game 4 starting pitcher, sitting there, watching the game … maybe wondering why he wasn’t in the game.
Wolf turns and dashes back to the clubhouse. Time is called as the left-field umpire comes running in from his position. Is there a beachball on the field? Nope, Torre just needs a few minutes before the next pitch is thrown to Rafael Furcal.
Finally, Wolf emerges, takes first for Thome, and limbers up as if this is completely unexpected.
In the TBS post-game show, Dennis Eckersley was shaking his head:
“You know Thome’s going to need a pinch runner and Torre’s looking for someone, he’s looking for a pitcher he can waste. Meanwhile Wolf doesn’t have his spikes on,” says Eckersley, the Hall of Famer pitcher.
“I’ve been there before. You’re not waiting to pinch run, are you kidding me?
“For me it happened a long time ago, I was with the Cubs and I had pitched the day before and I wasn’t feeling all that well because I didn’t win that game and I wasn’t real happy. The next day, it’s a day game and I’m sitting in the dugout hanging out and the next thing you know (Rick) Sutcliffe hits a ground ball and pulls a hammy. The next thing you know, ‘Hey, Eck get in there and run.’
“I have no spikes on, I get on first base, the first guy up hits a gapper and I’m running around second and third going ‘Why am I even here?’ I slide into home like I’m a player. You never know in this game when they might go to the bench.”
Cal Ripken’s tagline to Eck’s story: “II guarantee one thing, everyone will have their metal cleats on in the dugout (for Game 2).”