PHOENIX – On a day the A’s took an unconventional route to victory, their most unconventional of relievers earned his first major league win.
Pat Venditte wound up getting a beer shower as part of Oakland’s celebration of a 7-4 victory over Arizona in 11 innings. He pitched two scoreless innings to finish out a marathon game at Chase Field. With that, the first ambidextrous pitcher in baseball’s modern era walked away with his first big league win.
It was a reward worth eight years in the making, since the 30-year-old rookie first was drafted by the Yankees and began working his way through the minors way back in 2008.
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“You do reflect on some of the long bus rides and (things you have to do) to get to this,” Venditte said. “But to get this first win is very special. I’m sure it’ll sink in somewhere on that flight home.”
The A’s took a 4-3 lead into the ninth, only to have the Diamondbacks tie it against Drew Pomeranz. They let numerous scoring opportunities escape, but eventually an 18-hit attack put them over the top, with an 11th-inning rally in which they bunched four hits together and scored three runs, all with two outs.
“This was probably the hardest we’ve fought this year after giving up a lead late,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Venditte debuted with the A’s back in June and became the first major leaguer to record outs with both arms since the Expos’ Greg Harris did it back in 1995. However, Harris was not a full-time ambidextrous pitcher as is Venditte. His father, Pat Sr., began teaching the natural right-hander to throw with his left hand at the age of three.
On Sunday, Venditte allowed one hit with one strikeout in handling the 10th and 11th. He retired Paul Goldschmidt, one of the National League’s most dangerous hitters, on a fly out to Josh Reddick to end the game. Venditte said he planned to give the game ball from Sunday to his father, who spent a good chunk of time in Arizona during spring training watching his son pitch after Venditte signed a minor league contract with the A’s over the winter.
In the top of the 11th, Venditte – who, naturally, is a switch hitter too - had to scramble to grab a bat for his first major league plate appearance. He took a called third strike while batting left-handed against the Diamondbacks’ A.J. Schugel, but managed to make contact on a couple foul balls.
Venditte hurriedly grabbed a bat belonging to shortstop Marcus Semien before stepping to the plate.
“I was a little upset I didn’t get to use my bats,” Venditte joked. “I had some bats ordered for today, but it happened too fast, I didn’t get to use them.”
Catcher Stephen Vogt, who spent several years laboring in the minors himself before making it in the bigs, said he was very happy for Venditte. In an overall tough season for the last-place A’s, Vogt noted they’ve had some nice individual stories.
“One cool part about this year, guys like Pat Venditte and Aaron Brooks have come in and got their first wins with us,” Vogt said. “And guys like Mark Canha and Billy Burns have kind of taken off. … It’s kind of that benchmark , a milestone for a pitcherr to get that first win. That was pretty special.”