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Recounting the time Al Leiter threw 163 pitches in one game

That's a lot of pitches.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we talked about one of the weirdest pitching lines in Yankees' history. This week, it's time to learn about another--only this one happened far more recently.

Today, Al Leiter is known to most Yankees' fans as a YES Network broadcaster. He had two stints with the Yankees, bookending his career. He was a second round pick by the Yankees in the 1984 draft. By 1987, he had worked his way through the minors and made his debut on September 15th of that year. He made four starts that season and 15 more in 1988. In his first start of the 1989 season and got hammered by the Indians. He gave up six runs in 5.1 innings as the Yankees lost 11-1. Six days later, he made his second start of the season against the Twins. There, things got weird.

It was a cold, damp night in early April, not exactly ideal pitching conditions. Leiter threw an easy 1-2-3 inning in the first. In the second, he labored a bit and allowed the Twins to take an early 1-0 lead on a Brian Harper single. But then in the third, he really struggled. Leiter walked three and allowed two hits in the inning as the Twins took a 3-0 lead. Through three innings, he had thrown 69 nice pitches.

In the fourth, Leiter struggled more, walking two more hitters and allowing another Twins' run. By the time the inning ended, he had thrown over 90 pitches. Today, Leiter wouldn't be left in there much longer, if at all. He might be given the fifth depending on the state of the bullpen. Even then, he probably wouldn't make it past the fifth. However, on this day, that was not the plan.

Then-Yankees manager Dallas Green wanted to "stretch out" Leiter and proceeded to leave him in the game for eight innings. Leiter threw 163 pitches on April 14, 1989. He had thrown well over 150 when he was brought back out for the ninth. But after walking the lead-off hitter in the ninth, suddenly that was the line and he was taken out.

Amazingly, Leiter allowed just five runs in the game, only three of which were earned. He struck out ten in his eight innings, while walking nine. NINE. Leiter made two more starts for the Yankees in 1989, where he threw 96 and 130 pitches. 96. Pfft. On April 30, he was traded to the Blue Jays for Jesse Barfield. He made one start for Toronto in '89. In it, Leiter threw 124 pitches.

Shockingly, Leiter went on the DL not long after, undergoing multiple shoulder surgeries while dealing with tendinitis and a pinched nerve. Leiter pitched a combined nine innings in the 1990-92 seasons before finally making it back fully for the 1993 season. To his credit, Leiter did not let these injury-troubled years ruin his career, as he went on to make two All-Star teams, strike out almost 2,000 batters, compile 42.6 WAR, pitch a no-hitter, serve as the Mets' ace during their 2000 World Series run, and win two championships as a member of the '93 Blue Jays and '97 Marlins. Not bad for a high draft pick whose career suddenly seemed to be toast at age 26.

The Yankees actually won the game against the Twins 8-5, thanks mostly to four runs driven home by Steve Balboni. In the past 25 years of Yankees baseball, only one pitcher has come within even 15 pitches of Leiter's total that night, and that was back in 1992 (Scott Sanderson). With the rise of Tommy John surgeries in the past couple years, pitch counts have become a hot topic in baseball. Whatever your feelings are on that, I think you can agree that 163 pitches is probably too many.