After six scoreless innings in his first four career appearances, offenses may have been wondering what it would take to score a run off the Brewers’ Adrian Houser.
Turns out that Houser puking twice on the mound did the trick.
And despite his stomach being tied in the kind of knots it would take the sword of Alexander the Great to cut through, the Phillies only managed one run Sunday, raising Houser’s career ERA to a still-excellent 1.29.
Houser — starting his second stint with the Brewers this season after arriving in Milwaukee early Sunday from Triple-A Colorado Springs — came into the game in the eighth inning with the Brewers down 8-5, and proceeded to give up his cookies behind the mound.
Manager Craig Counsell came out of the dugout to check on Houser and give him a bottle of water while the grounds crew tended to the cleanup.
Houser stayed in the game and gave up a double to Jorge Alfaro, putting himself into an instant jam.
Jesmuel Valentin grounded out weakly, forcing Alfaro to remain on second base, and things looked better for Houser … until he turned and emptied the contents of his guts once more.
"I wasn't going to let (Counsell) pull me out," Houser said on wanting to stay in the game after vomiting twice. https://t.co/rtepHLf1IC
— Stephen Cohn (@stephen__cohn) June 18, 2018
Counsell once again came out of the dugout, and the Brewers were for the second time not charged with a mound visit, which would normally by rule require a pitching change after two trips out to the mound by the manager.
And, like an old-school tough guy, Houser gave an “I’m-OK-Skip” and stayed in the game once again.
Scott Kingery hit an RBI double, keeping Houser’s career opponents’ slugging percentage at a robust 2.000 in at-bats immediately following puking episodes.
But once again, Houser settled down, and after Cesar Hernandez flew out and Rhys Hopkins grounded out, one of the wildest half-innings of 2018 went into the books.
The Phillies went on to win the game 10-9.
Counsell, who had a 15-year career as a player, was sympathetic to his pitcher’s plight.
“For Adrian today, it was just kind of a combination of a bunch of factors. He wasn’t under the weather at all, but it was an early wake-up call, not enough food, heat, probably a little nerves from getting to the big leagues today,” Counsell said.
“There wasn’t very much coming out. It wasn’t a food thing,” he said with a chuckle.
Counsell turned more serious in reassuring the media that Houser will be OK.
“Adrian was completely fine,” Counsell said. “It was like he was just trying to get that part over with. There was no panic in his eyes, not in any way. He was talking and he wasn’t struggling at all. Like I said, it was just a kind of combination of all those factors. He was fine, kind of after he sat down and everything was good.”
Houser himself seemed to confirm his manager’s comments.
“I think it was a combination of traveling this morning and not having a lot of food in me. I was trying to stay hydrated in the bullpen. It’s pretty hot here compared to Colorado Springs. All combined, it got me,” Houser said.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler was as impressed as some of the fans, who watched a rather literal case of a pitcher gutting out an inning.
“I have a lot of respect for anybody who would step behind the mound and throw up and step back on the mound and pitch,” Kapler said.
The 27-year-old Houser has only made five major league appearances, including three this year and two in 2015.
And considering he has given up just one run in seven innings and then only after puking on the field twice, maybe he can stick in the big leagues this time.
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