CLEVELAND – Formerly a fleet outfielder, Anthony Gose returned to the majors five years later Monday night as a rocket-armed reliever for the Cleveland Indians, flashing 100 mph heat and fanning Royals slugger Salvador Perez.
Gose pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing one run and one hit with one walk and one strikeout in the second game of a doubleheader against Kansas City. Of his 39 pitches, seven zoomed into triple digits.
“That was pretty special to me,” Gose said. “It meant a lot to get the opportunity to go out there again. It's been a while. I'm excited to be able to have the opportunity.”
Gose admitted there were more than a few days when his goal of getting back to the majors as a pitcher seemed like it might be unattainable, but he wasn't about to give up.
“I love the game,” he said. "I love to play. I guess I'm too stupid to quit."
The 31-year-old lefty last played in the majors in 2016 with Detroit. He spent parts of five years with the Tigers and Toronto before becoming a pitcher.
“His story is something that makes me smile, it really does,” Cleveland interim manager DeMarlo Hale said earlier in the day.
Now on the mound, he zinged it.
Gose finished his first appearance by striking out Perez on a 98 mph four-seam fastball — in the first game, the Royals star hit his 46th home run, breaking Johnny Bench’s record for most in a season by a catcher. Perez's homer tied Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the major league lead.
“He’s not afraid to compete,” Hale said of Gose's matchup with Perez. “I didn’t even think about that in those terms. When we brought him in, it was a situation we were trying to get multi-innings from him, keep the game close. He did that but the competitor in him, it really doesn’t matter who’s in the box.”
Gose didn't get a decision in the Indians' 4-2 loss, which completed Kansas City's sweep.
Gose hit 100 mph on the radar gun with his second pitch, to Hunter Dozier to begin the fourth inning. Dozier drew a walk.
Kyle Isbel then popped up a bunt and Gose nearly collided with third baseman Yu Chang going for the ball. Gose recovered and threw Dozier out at second base.
Hanser Alberto doubled over third base on a 100 mph pitch and Sebastian Rivero's groundout scored a run. Whit Merrifield lined out to left to end the inning.
Gose retired Nicky Lopez on another line drive to left to begin the fifth before striking out Perez on a 98 mph four-seam fastball.
Gose was removed from the game by Hale, who congratulated his new pitcher, as did the other infielders on the mound. Gose also received a nice ovation from the crowd of 11,459 as he walked to the dugout.
He also collected several baseballs from his outing that he plans to give to coaches in Cleveland's organization.
“They helped me get here,” Gose said. “It meant a lot to me. I know it probably meant a lot to them, too. They put in a lot of time with me.”
Drafted by Philadelphia in the second round in 2008, Gose returned to the minors as a pitcher in 2017.
Gose is in his third year in Cleveland’s minor league system and drew attention with his performance at Triple-A Columbus this season.
Gose struck out 49 in 33 innings, hitting 100 mph on the radar gun and consistently throwing in the upper 90s. He walked 28 and was 6-1 with a 3.55 ERA in 28 games. Gose has pitched 13 scoreless innings, striking out 21 and walking six, in his last 11 appearances.
This summer, Gose pitched four scoreless innings for the U.S Olympic team in Tokyo.
Gose hit .240 with 57 steals in the majors. In 2015, he stole 23 bases and hit 24 doubles for the Tigers while batting .254 in 140 games. He became a pitcher after failing to make Detroit's opening day roster in 2017.
“You think about his journey, putting in the work over the last few years, he’s got to feel good about himself and what he’s done to get to this point,” Hale said.
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