It didn’t take long for him to look like he had already been there before.
Bourjos pulled off web-gem wizardry in the top of the 13th inning Monday night of a 4-3, 14-inning loss when, while playing second base for the first time in his career, he dove to his left to stop a hard-hit ground ball from speedy New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner.
Upon recording the out, Bourjos got his share of sarcastic cheers and claps from teammates in the home dugout.
Even his opponents were impressed.
“First of all, to get to it, knock it down, and I thought for sure like, ‘How is he going to be able to know how to make that touch throw?’ And he did,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone, a former major league infielder himself. “Tough play.”
Bourjos’ infield appearance was but one of a litany of strange occurrences late in the extra-innings game. As the clock raced past 2 a.m. back on the East Coast, things got wacky.
In addition to Bourjos playing out of position, the Angels — out of position players when Bourjos entered the game in the 12th as a pinch hitter replacing designated hitter Kevan Smith — were forced into trotting out a relief pitcher to serve as a pinch runner.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter that righty reliever Felix Pena came in as a 12th-inning baserunner. One batter after he entered, the Yankees got out of a possible trouble with an inning-ending ground ball.
Pena made the rare basepath appearance in an American League game because third baseman Zack Cozart was forced to leave after injuring his neck running the bases. Cozart had just taken his turn around second when his teammate, Brian Goodwin, drove in another baserunner with a game-tying single.
As Cozart raced back to second base, where the Yankees threw behind him, he dove awkwardly into the bag. His helmet appeared to come off and hit him in the face just before his head smacked into Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu‘s shin. After a rather lengthy injury delay, Cozart came out of the game, replaced by Pena.
When it was time for the Angels to head to the field the next half inning, Pena’s spot in the order was replaced by relief pitcher Luke Bard, who came on for the 13th. As a result, Bourjos’ time as the DH was burned, meaning he had to enter the game on defense. Second base was where he was placed.
Pena wasn’t the only Angels pitcher to enter late in a non-traditional role. In the 14th inning, with Los Angeles trailing by a run, starting pitcher Trevor Cahill came out to pinch-hit for Bard. It marked the first time an Angels pitcher had pinch-hit in an American League game since the DH was adopted in 1973.
Cahill, who fouled two pitches off Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder, struck out swinging to end the game.
“He put some good swings together,” Holder said of Cahill. “It was definitely different seeing a pitcher up there.”