In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
The Colorado Rockies beat the Atlanta Braves 7-6 in 12 innings at Coors Field. The Rockies who ran out of pitchers used catcher Brent Mayne in the 12th inning. Mayne was nursing a sore wrist and unable to swing a bat. Brent Mayne allowed a walk and a hit but no runs and became the first position player to win a game since Rocky Colavito in 1968.
Coors Field from the moment it opened in 1995, had been home to crazy games in which runs have been plentiful as the mile air atmosphere and spacious dimensions combine created a hitter’s paradise. Often in these games, bullpens were exhausted, and pitching staffs were stretched as thin a possible for one August game that included the need for a position player to take the mound in extra innings.
Managed by Bobby Cox, the Atlanta Braves were on the way to another division title, sitting at 76-48. The Colorado Rockies were floating near .500 under manager Buddy Bell. On a Tuesday night in Denver, the Braves had John Burkett on the mound, while Masato Yoshii made the start for Colorado. The Rockies had their regular catcher Brent Mayne on the bench as he had a sprained left wrist that made it impossible to swing a bat. Mayne, a veteran catcher in his 11th season, was in his first season with the Rockies. The Rockies were waiting to see if his wrist improved before placing him on the disabled list.
The game started well for the Rockies, as Todd Walker gave them an early 2-0 lead with a two-out triple in the first inning. In the second inning, the Rockies added a run on a sacrifice fly by Juan Pierre. The Braves answered in the third when Andruw Jones scored on a sac-fly by B.J. Surhoff. In the fourth inning, Colorado stretched the lead to 6-1, as Jeff Cirillo scored on a single by Ben Petrick. Petrick later scored with Todd Hollandsworth on a double by Neifi Perez.
The Braves comeback began in the fifth inning when Andruw Jones homered to spark a three-run rally. Chipper Jones followed with a single and scored on a double by Surhoff, who later scored on a single by Andres Galarraga. Yoshii was out of the game after five innings, as the Rockies tried to hold the lead with their bullpen. Mike DeJean was first and after a scoreless sixth, allowed a home run by Chipper Jones saw the lead cut to 6-5. DeJean allowed a walk to Surhoff and a single to Galarraga before Jose Jimenez took over. Jimenez gave up a game-tying single to Javy Lopez but escaped further damage.
Gabe White pitched the ninth inning for the Rockies as Jimenez successfully navigated the eighth. The game Rockies would use two pitchers in the tenth, to keep the game tied, as the Braves got two on against Craig House before Bobby Chouinard had a pair of groundouts to keep the game deadlocked at 6-6. Since the Rockies last scored, the Braves bullpen had been stingy as Terry Mulholland and Mike Remlinger were solid, while the Rockies left the bases loaded against Kerry Ligtenberg in the ninth.
Colorado again mixed and matched in the 11th, while Scott Kamieniecki was helped by double plays in his two innings of work for the Braves. Mike Meyers got the first two outs but was replaced by John Wasdin, a left-hander to face Andres Galarraga. Wasdin hit Galarraga and was ejected after an altercation. Wasdin was Colorado’s last reliever. Brian Bohanon, who started the day before, took the mound on his own. Bohanon walked Brian Jordan but ended the inning by getting Javy Lopez to flyout.
Not wanting to keep Brian Bohanon on the mound, Buddy Bell had to pick a position player to go in. Brent Mayne had a strained left wrist and could not swing the bat, but he could throw and was sent out as a sacrificial lamb. The Braves out of position players had Tom Glavine pinch hit for Kamieniecki. He hit the ball back to Mayne for the first out. Walt Weiss followed with a fly ball to centerfield for the second out. Rafael Furcal followed with a single and advanced on a wild pitch as Mayne walked Andruw Jones. However, he ended the inning without allowing a run, as Chipper Jones bounced out to third.
In the bottom of the 12th, the Rockies greeted John Rocker with back-to-back singles by Neifi Perez and Todd Helton. After Jeffrey Hammonds hit a liner for the first out, Stan Belinda came into pitch for Atlanta. Belinda would strikeout Terry Shumpert and intentionally walked Jeff Cirillo to face Brent Mayne, who could not swing the bat. The bases were loaded, and Buddy Bell had another decision. On the bench was rookie Adam Melhuse who was hitless in six career at-bats. Melhuse was to be the next pitcher if the Rockies did not pull the game out. Melhuse, however, lined the ball to left field and won the game 7-6.
Brent Mayne became the first position player to win a game since Rocky Colavito won a game with the New York Yankees on August 25, 1968, against the Detroit Tigers. Mayne never pitched again as he played four more seasons, continuing to be a steady catcher off the bench. Melhuse would play eight years, splitting time between AAA and the majors, with just 24 career RBI in 735 at-bats. There would not be another position player winning a game until Wilson Valdez of the Philadelphia Phillies on May 25, 2011.