On Monday night, Astros utility infielder Jake Elmore became just the 13th man in major league history to both catch and pitch in the same game, and he holds a unique place even on that exclusive list.
Of the first 12 men to fill both ends of the battery in the same game prior to Elmore, eight were catchers by trade (most recently, Jeff Mathis, then of the Blue Jays, and Rob Johnson, then of the Mets, each did it last year; the Yankees Rick Cerone did it twice in 1987). The other four -- the A's Bert Campaneris in 1965, the Twins' Cesar Tovar in 1968 and the Rangers' Scott Sheldon and the Tigers' Shane Halter, both in 2000 -- did so as part of a late-season stunt in which they played all nine positions in the field in a single game.
Elmore, by comparison, had never played either position in the major leagues prior to last night, and catcher and pitcher were the only two positions he played in Houston's 16-5 loss to the Rangers on Monday. The bulk of the 26-year-old Elmore's playing time as a professional has come at the middle infield positions. Prior to last night, he had also made seven appearances in leftfield in the majors, and one each at rightfield, first base and third base. Elmore did pitch and catch in the minors, but his minor league catching experience consisted of a single inning in 2010, and the last of his four pitching appearances came in 2011, leaving him with a minor league ERA of 10.38 in 4 1/3 innings.
On Monday, however, Elmore caught four clean innings, then pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, needing just 11 pitches to set down Mitch Moreland, Jurickson Profar and David Murphy with his low-80s two-seamer.
Murphy, who pitched a scoreless inning against the Red Sox in June, praised Elmore's approach. "He stayed below hitting speed and had fun," said Murphy. "He had more sink than me. He had more sink on his fastball.
As for the catching, that was, to some degree, Elmore's idea. "I told them I could catch two weeks ago, so maybe if the game was out of hand, why not see if I actually can catch," Elmore told MLB.com. "Hopefully, I did all right."