Given a pair of assignments that took him outside his customary role, Bob Tewksbury delivered on both and produced an intriguing victory for the Cardinals.
Twenty-five years ago, on April 25, 1992, Tewksbury, a starting pitcher, was brought into a game against the Expos as an emergency reliever for a depleted Cardinals bullpen.
He also was tasked with making a plate appearance with two outs and the potential winning run at third base, a situation which usually would have called for a pinch-hitter.
Defying the odds, Tewksbury pitched two innings of scoreless relief and got the hit that brought St. Louis a walkoff win.
Looking to jump-start their season after losing nine of their first 15, the Cardinals opened a three-game series against the Expos at St. Louis on April 24, 1992. Trailing 3-2 with two outs and none on in the ninth, the Cardinals scored two runs off closer John Wetteland and won, 4-3. Boxscore
The next night, the starting pitching matchup was Ken Hill, the former Cardinal, for the Expos against Jose DeLeon. The Cardinals tied the score, 1-1, in the eighth on a Ray Lankford home run off Hill.
Relief pitching for both teams was sharp and the score remained tied through 15 innings.
In the 16th, after having used all six pitchers in his bullpen, Cardinals manager Joe Torre called on Tewksbury, who hadn’t made a relief appearance since May 5, 1990.
Tewksbury held the Expos scoreless in the 16th and 17th, allowing one base runner, Marquis Grissom, who singled.
In the bottom half of the 17th, with Mel Rojas in his fourth inning of relief for the Expos, Rex Hudler and Gerald Perry opened with consecutive singles, but Brian Jordan grounded into a double play.
With Hudler on third and two outs, Torre, out of position players on the bench, let Tewksbury bat.
Tewksbury had produced nine hits and two RBI for the 1991 Cardinals and seven hits and two RBI for the 1990 Cardinals. He got his first big-league RBI in 1989 with a single for the Cardinals at Montreal against the Expos’ Andy McGaffigan.
In 1992, Tewksbury was hitless in six at-bats before facing the Expos.
Tewksbury took the first pitch from Rojas for ball one.
On the next delivery, Tewksbury swung and lined the ball over the head of left fielder John Vander Wal for a game-winning single.
“That’s the hardest ball I’ve ever hit,” Tewksbury told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I felt confident going to the plate. I went to the batting cage three times today to hit.”
The RBI was Tewksbury’s sixth in 120 career at-bats in the big leagues. He would finish his career with a .132 batting average and 19 RBI. To put into perspective the rarity of his hitting feat, consider that Tewksbury batted .073 (3-for-41) in his career against the Expos.
For his effort, Tewksbury also earned the win, the first and only one he would get in relief in his 13 years in the major leagues. His other 109 big-league wins all came as a starter. Boxscore