August 09, 2007
Failed pitcher Rick Ankiel hit a three-run homer to cap his debut as a major league outfielder, and Joel Pineiro worked seven scoreless innings in the St. Louis Cardinals' 5-0 victory over the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.
The Cardinals took three of four from the NL West-contending Padres, spoiling the return of Chris Young in the finale.
The day began with utilityman Scott Spiezio going on the restricted list for a substance problem that the Cardinals did not specify, allowing for the callup of Ankiel to take his spot on the roster.
Ankiel, who led the Pacific Coast League with 32 homers for Triple-A Memphis, launched a 2-1 pitch from Doug Brocail over the right-field wall in the seventh with an effortless swing that put the Cardinals ahead 5-0.
The drive merited a standing ovation and a curtain call for the once-troubled left-hander, who quit pitching in spring training 2005 to begin the long climb back up the ladder as a 26-year-old minor league outfielder.
I remember all too well Ankeil's meltdown against the Braves in the 2000 playoffs. He threw 5 wild pitches in an inning and he never recovered as a pitcher, seemingly unable to find the strike zone. A couple of years ago, he gave up his comeback as a pitcher and started over as an outfielder. Tonight, he returned to St. Louis in a big way. Apparently he's got some pop in his bat, so he might kick the Cardinals' offense in the bottom.
Anyway, it's kind of a feel good story. The fact that it happened to my favorite pro baseball team is gravy.
Update: Dean Barnett also posted on this story. The image below is courtesy of him.
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