The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
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Flashback: 2021 MLB season included family ties highlights

During the first part of last week, we were still anxiously waiting for the 2022 MLB season to kick into gear. I had prepared a piece that looked back at the history of the game to get our baseball “fix.”

So, even though the MLB and MLBPA finally got agreement on the new CBA last Thursday, I decided to go ahead with my flashback article. However, we need only to go back to last season to recall several  games in which family ties played a role. Throughout the majors in 2021, there were fifteen pairs of brothers, four pairs of cousins, and three sets of brothers-in-law. Following are some of their game highlights.

The most unique occasion of brothers playing on the same team occurred on August 12, when Austin and Andrew Romine were batterymates for the Chicago Cubs against the Milwaukee Brewers. There have been prior situations in baseball history where brothers have been pitcher and catcher in the same game. But what makes this one unique is Andrew, normally an infielder, was brought into pitch for the Cubs in a blowout game with his brother behind the plate. They were the first brother duo to appear as batterymates since 1962 when Larry and Norm Sherry played for the Dodgers.

Austin, who had just been activated by the Cubs before the game, came in as catcher after a pinch-hit appearance. Andrew, who started the game at shortstop, went to the mound in the ninth inning with the Brewers leading, 16-3. Andrew wasn’t able to shut the Brewers down as he gave up a solo home run to Luis Urias. However, he did manage to strike out Jackie Bradley Jr. to end the inning. It wasn’t the first time Andrew took a turn on the mound. He had seven previous appearances as pitcher, including a game on September 30, 2017, in which he played all nine positions.

Who does a mother root for when one of her sons bats against his brother in a game? That’s the situation the mother of Bradley and Kyle Zimmer experienced when they played against each other on September 27. Cleveland Indians outfielder Bradley got the best of Kyle, who had just entered the game as a reliever for Kansas City, by hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. It was Bradley’s eighth homer of the season. The last time a brother homered off his brother was Joe Niekro, who hit his only major-league home run off his brother Phil on May 29, 1976.

Mexican-born brothers Luis and Ramon Urias posted highlights on the same day on April 13, when each hit their first home run of the season. However, both of their home runs came in losing causes, as Ramon’s Orioles lost to the Seattle Mariners, 4-3, and Luis’s Milwaukee Brewers lost to the Cubs, 3-2.

Aaron and Austin Nola had only faced each other in a practice game while playing for LSU until they squared off on August 21 for the first time in the majors. Aaron, the Philadelphia Phillies ace pitcher, was in his seventh season, while Austin was in his third as a catcher with San Diego. Aaron had a perfect game going through six innings that included striking out Austin and inducing him into a pop fly out. Aaron lost his perfect game and no-hitter in the seventh inning, including a walk to Austin, but pitched into the eighth inning until being relieved. The Phillies wound up losing the game in the tenth inning, 4-3.

Brothers Jordan and Justus Sheffield opposed each other as pitchers for the first time in a spring training game on March 4. Jordan was in his first major-league season with the Colorado Rockies, while Justus was in his fourth major-league season and third with the Seattle Mariners. Jordan is a righty, while Justus throws from the left side. They have yet to pitch against each other in a regular season game. While both were in the minor leagues in 2019, they were on opposing teams for a series but were not in the game at the same time.

When the Cleveland Indians acquired Josh Naylor in 2020, it set up the possibility he and his brother Bo will be teammates. They went to the Indians’ spring training camp together in 2021, but Bo wound up going to Double-A Akron for the regular season, while Josh played a full season with the Indians. The brothers had played on the same team only once in their careers, which occurred in a youth league.

Brothers Jake and Joe McCarthy have yet to play in the majors at the same time, but they did see action with Triple-A teams that opposed each other on July 1. Jake played for Reno against Joe’s Sacramento team. Jake got one hit, while Joe went hitless. In a later game in the series between the two teams, both players had RBI-doubles. Joe had made his major-league debut with the San Francisco Giants in 2020, but did not appear in the majors last season, while Jake wound up making his debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2021.

Rafael Devers and his cousin Jose Devers played against each other for the first time. Jose made his major-league debut with the Marlins in 2021, while Rafael was in his fifth season with the Red Sox. On May 28, the two teams faced each other, but it was an uneventful game for both players who went hitless in Boston’s 5-2 win. The cousins had grown up together in the Dominican Republic.

When the Cincinnati Reds called up Delino Deshields Jr. last September, he joined his father Delino Deshields Sr., the first-base coach for the team. It was the first time they had ever shared a dugout. They had previously been on opposing teams in 2019 and 2020.

Other major-league brother pairs who played against each other in the same game numerous times in 2021, as well as in earlier years, included Corey (Dodgers) and Kyle (Mariners) Seager and Yuli (Astros) and Lourdes Jr. (Blue Jays) Gurriel.

Other major-league cousins who played on opposing teams in 2021, as well as in earlier years, included John Andreoli (Padres) and Daniel Bard (Rockies).

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