Tuesday May 28th, 2013

Monday night, in just his second major league appearance, Cory Rasmus, a righthanded relief pitcher for the Braves, had to pitch against his brother Colby, the centerfielder for the Blue Jays. The confrontation came in the seventh inning of Toronto's 9-3 win over Atlanta at the Rogers Centre. The younger Rasmus had already given up a three-run home run and had a man on first due to an error by first baseman Freddie Freeman. With one out, Colby stepped up and did this:

[mlbvideo id="27509487" width="400" height="224" /]

Afterward, Colby said of facing his younger brother, "Man, that was a lot of mixed emotions," he told Sportsnet. "It was probably the weirdest feeling I've had since I've been in pro ball."

Given how many sets of brothers have played in the major leagues, brother-vs.-brother at-bats are surprisingly rare. The last one before this came on June 13, 2010 in a game between the Angels and Dodgers which Jered Weaver started for the former and Jeff Weaver relieved for the latter. Each brother hit against the other for the only time in their careers in that game with Jeff striking out against Jered to lead off the bottom of the third and Jered grounding out against Jeff in the fourth.

The last time a non-pitcher hit against his pitching brother was in 2007, when Julio Lugo of the Red Sox faced his younger brother Ruddy of the A's on consecutive days in late September. Julio drew a walk in the eighth inning on Sept. 25 and flied out to strand two runners in the sixth inning the next day.

Prior to that, you have to go back to George and Ken Brett to find a pair of brothers who faced each other in an at-bat in their primary roles, as well as to find the last time such a confrontation resulted in a hit. The Brett brothers faced off 20 times over a four-season span from 1976 to 1979, when pitcher Ken was an American League journeyman and George was in his Hall of Fame prime as the Royals' third baseman. George went 6-for-20 with a pair of doubles against his older brother, which was actually a victory for Ken, as the resulting .300/.300/.400 line was well below what George was doing against the rest of the league at the time (.319/.368/.507 over those three seasons). The last hit in those 20 at-bats came in the top of the first inning on June 27, 1978, when George singled of Ken, who was then with the Angels. Ken got the upper hand in the brothers' four final confrontations.

There have been a handful of other brother combinations who have faced off in the last 40 years, but they have all been pairs of pitchers, specifically, Phil and Joe Niekro, Bob and Ken Forsch, Greg and Mike Maddux, Pedro and Ramon Martinez and Andy and Alan Benes, each of whom had at least one at-bat against the other. Of those five pairings, the Niekro brothers faced off by far the most times, with Phil hitting against Joe 20 times (going 6-for-19 with two doubles and just one strikeout) and Joe hitting against Phil 19 times (going 2-for-18 with four strikeouts and one sacrifice; the two hits were a double and a home run, which marked the only round-tripper of Joe's career). Prior to Colby Rasmus's double off Cory, the last time one brother got a hit off another was in 2002 when Andy Benes singled twice off younger brother Alan in an 11-2 Cardinals win over the Cubs in which Andy got the win and Alan took the loss. That was the only game in which either Benes brother hit against the other. Alan lined out in his only at-bat against Andy in that game.

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