A pitcher coming up to bat in a crucial situation is not something that happens very much anymore. It’s almost impossible in the American League. Even in the National League, it’s a very rare occurrence. However, there was a time when pitchers got at-bats in key moments.
Red Ruffing Grand Slam
On April 14, 1933, Red Ruffing got the start for the Yankees against the Red Sox. He allowed two runs in the fourth but had otherwise pitched a scoreless game. The Yankees also managed just two runs against Red Sox starter Bob Weiland.
After allowing a lead-off single, Ruffing got an inning-ending double play to keep the game tied in the top of the ninth. In the bottom of the inning, the Yankees managed to load the bases without a hit. An error, an intentional walk, and a walk loaded the bases for Ruffing with two outs.
Ruffing was a decent hitter for a pitcher throughout his career, and he showed that against the Red Sox. The Yankees’ starter took Weiland deep for a walk-off grand slam. Ruffing got the win, and was responsible for driving in more runs than he allowed.
Bob Grim Home Run
On September 5, 1957, the Yankees fell behind 2-0 to the Red Sox in the fourth. The Yankees rallied and got those two runs back in the eight. During their rally, Yankees starter Bob Turley had been pinch-hit for. Bob Grim came in and got three outs in the top of the ninth.
Yogi Berra led off the bottom of the ninth with a single but was caught stealing. After a fly out, Jerry Lumpe kept the inning alive with a single. Enos Slaughter then drew a walk, leaving the inning up to Grim. Bob Grim was not a particularly great hitting pitcher. However, on this day, Grim hit one of his three career home runs, giving the Yankees a walk-off win.
Allie Reynolds Single
Allie Reynolds was touched up for four early runs on July 12, 1952 against the St. Louis Browns. He settled down after that, and the Yankees came back to tie the game a few innings later. Reynolds remained in the game as it reached extra innings.
After a scoreless top of the 11th, Berra led off the bottom of the inning with a single. Mickey Mantle fouled out before Gil McDougald reached on a sacrifice bunt. A Gene Woodling single then loaded the bases. The Yankees sent up Johnny Mize as a pinch-hitter for Billy Martin, but that backfired when Mize popped up.
Reynolds wasn’t a great hitting pitcher and would hit just .153/.200/.176 in 1952. However, against Satchel Paige no less, Reynolds singled home Berra to give the Yankees a walk-off win.
Jonny Sain Bases Loaded Walk
The weirdest Yankees walk-off win that came from the pitcher happened on May 31, 1954. The Yankees opened up a 6-1 lead in the third inning over the Senators. However, Yankees’ relievers Tom Morgan and Tom Gorman (somehow not the same person) then gave those runs back over the next five innings.
The game remained tied and went into extra innings. Jonny Sain came in to pitch the tenth and threw a 1-2-3 inning. Slaughter reached on an error to start the bottom of the tenth. After Slaughter was bunted over to third, Gene Woodling was intentionally walked.
After Andy Carey struck out, Berra was intentionally walked to get to Sain. Senators’ reliever Spec Shea managed to walk Sain, brining home the winning run.
It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely that a Yankees reliever will ever drive home the winning run with a walk-off walk ever again.
All data courtesy off the Baseball Reference Play Index