The Cardinals used all seven of their relief pitchers in the first 17 innings of Saturday's 2-1 loss against the Mets, so utility man Lopez came in to pitch the 18th. And then Mather, something of a Swiss Army Knife type of player himself, pitched the 19th -- switching places with Lopez, who took Mather's previous spot at third base.
Lopez said he hadn't pitched in a game since Little League. For Mather, it was high school -- but still plenty long enough.
"I was just trying to play catch with [catcher Yadier Molina]," Lopez said. "That was it. I wasn't trying to throw hard or anything."
Lopez did quite well, though. He allowed a single to Mets pitcher Raul Valdes, but Valdes was erased when he tried to take second base on Brendan Ryan's wild throw. Albert Pujols threw to Mather, covering second base, and Mather tagged Valdes for the out. Lopez went on to walk Angel Pagan, but he got out of the 18th inning when Mike Jacobs flied out. Lopez reached the high 70s to low 80s mph with his pitches.
In the 19th, Mather issued a leadoff walk, and after a sacrifice, he intentionally walked David Wright. He hit Jason Bay with a pitch, and Jeff Francoeur gave the Mets the lead with a sacrifice fly, which was wiped out after Yadier Molina tied it in the Cards' half with an RBI single. But Mather ended up as the losing pitcher when he allowed a sacrifice fly to Jose Reyes in the 20th. Mather became the first Cardinals position player to record a decision since Jose Oquendo. Now the club's third-base coach, Oquendo was the losing pitcher on May 14, 1988, when he pitched four innings in a 7-5 loss to Atlanta.
"Sophomore year of high school," Mather said when asked the last time he pitched. "That's quite a few years ago. Unfortunately being a little wild was the problem then. So I think I honestly did a little better tonight."
As part of the sequence, Cards pitcher Kyle Lohse played left field, because not only had St. Louis run out of pitchers, it ran out of position players as well.
"I know we lost, but it was pretty fun going out there and doing that," said Lohse, who recorded two putouts. "Pretty crazy. I tried to pretend like it was BP. It was a little nerve-wracking. I just didn't want to drop it."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less