One of the reasons we love Major League Baseball so much is that on any given day something might happen that hasn’t in decades, like on Wednesday when Cincinnati Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen hit a home run, played center field and won the game as a pitcher. That hadn’t happened since 1921 when The Babe pulled it off.
Well, something else historic occurred Thursday in an otherwise innocuous game in Pittsburgh between the Pirates and the Miami Marlins, two of the worst teams in the game this season.
In the fourth inning of the Marlins’ 10-7 win, Miami sent left-hander Brian Moran to the mound to make his MLB debut after spending 10 years in the minor leagues.
It just so happened that Pirates infielder Colin Moran, Brian’s younger brother, was due to hit in the inning.
“It’s incredible,” said Brian. “I think the last three days have been some of the most exciting, moving days that I’ve experienced. I don’t think you could dream up a cooler situation. I’m so excited I got to share it with my family. I got to get out on a big-league mound.”
Luckily enough, the brother-against-brother scenario played itself out and Brian struck out Colin looking. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time in history that a MLB pitcher in his debut faced his sibling. And since 1900, only seven players made their debut in a game against a brother.
In the bottom of the fourth, Brian, 30, got Pirates infielder Bryan Reynolds to lead off with a groundout. That brought his red-hot brother to the plate; Colin, 26, had doubled in his first two at-bats.
“I tried not to think about it too much as I was warming up in the bullpen,” Brian told Fox Sports Florida. “I saw where they were in the order. I was more nervous than I thought I’d be when he got in the box. To take the mound in a big-league game is special. I’m glad I got to share it with my brother.”
Colin worked the count to 3-1. Colin then fouled off a couple of pitches. Then a 71.7 mph slider struck him out looking. Colin smiled and said something to Brian as he walked towards the dugout.
“It was pretty cool to say my first strikeout was my brother,” Brian said. “I had a feeling that if I could land a slider he might not be expecting it. If I threw a ball, it might look like I was afraid of him. But I landed it.”
Despite the result, Colin was equally thrilled by the experience.
“He’s been my inspiration my whole life,” Colin said. “He’s never given up. That’s kind of been the theme of his career. I would’ve given up, probably. A lesser man would have given up with the road he’s had to go through.
“He made a good pitch. I was looking heater, figured he’d come after me.”
Brian then hit a batter before getting Melky Cabrera to end the inning by flying out. Marlins manager Don Mattingly then pulled him from the game. But in the top of the fifth, the Marlins scored four runs and never relinquished the lead, meaning Brian was credited with the win.
“It’s just fun to see that,” said Mattingly. “Knowing what these guys have probably been through as brothers growing up. It’s kind of fun for, I’m sure, that family, but it was really the right spot in the game. It worked out where it was a left-handed section for us in the right part of the game.”
Brian’s career began in the Seattle Mariners organization in 2009. He pitched for the Marlins Triple-A team in New Orleans this season. He was 2-3 with a 3.15 ERA in 43 appearances.
Colin and his brother often played in the backyard of their home, battling each other as pitcher versus hitter. But because of their age discrepancy, they never played on the same high school team. And until Thursday, they’d never crossed paths as professionals.
“I figured it would have lined up at some point before this in pro ball,” Colin said. “I was in Triple-A for two years, he was there for a while. So it’s kind of crazy that this is where we line up.
“I had it lined up in my head for a while, but obviously there’s a million things that have to go right for that to happen. I honestly was thinking there was no shot it was going to happen, but then he had a really good August and we began thinking that maybe he put himself in position to get a shot. He earned a spot here (in the majors). It’s pretty special.”