The Pirates lost to the Marlins 10-7 at PNC Park Thursday, but that does not matter much. It's September baseball between two last-place teams. The game is about as inconsequential as possible.
Since the stakes are low, let's all be happy for the Marlins' winning pitcher, Brian Moran.
Why yes, Brian is Colin Moran's brother. What the surname does not give away is that this was Brian's big-league debut, and in the fourth inning Thursday, the two squared off. It was the first time in baseball history where a pitcher faced his brother in his major league debut, or vice-versa, per the Elias Sports Bureau.
It was history, but also sentimental.
"He's been my inspiration my whole life," Colin said. "Just never giving up has kind of been the theme of his career."
Yes, his whole life. Brian is the older brother, turning 31 later this month. And there were plenty of chances for him to throw in the towel. He entered the minor leagues in 2009. In the decade between now and then, he underwent Tommy John surgery, pitched in independent ball, was taken in both the major- and minor-league portions of the Rule 5 draft and was selected in an indy ball dispersal draft because his team folded.
"I mean, I would have given up, probably," Colin said. "A lesser man would have would have given up with the road he's had to go through."
He didn't, and his reward was getting to face his little brother in his first game in the majors.
"I don't think you could dream up a cooler situation," Brian told reporters after the game.
Well, he had to face that Bryan Reynolds guy first, but that only took one pitch. Now it was on to family. Brian admitted postgame that he was a little more nervous to face Colin than he expected. After all, there is a four-year age gap between the two, so they had not matched up in any environment besides the backyard. Colin got plenty of hits there, but those don't count.
Time for one that does count. First pitch: 84 mph, but it ran on him for ball one. The second pitch is closer to the zone, but also misses the corner. The hitter Moran chases the third pitch for strike one, followed by a pitch inside to make it 3-1.
Colin takes a healthy cut on 3-1, but fouls it off. If this story line is not fun enough already, we get to see a rare treat after that swing:
Folks, that was a genuine Colin Moran smile.
"There's certain moments I feel like that happen up here that you just have to take a step back and really appreciate how hard it is to get there," Colin said. "Really enjoy the moment."
Moment of truth. The full count pitch.
And he came in with the breaking ball for a called strike three.
"I was looking heater," Colin said.
"It was a high risk, high reward situation," Brian said.
On the way back to the dugout, Colin turns to the home plate umpire Angel Hernandez. He asked for the ball. "Hold it for ransom or something," Colin thought. He didn't get it.
Brian finishes the inning by hitting Josh Bell with a pitch and getting Melky Cabrera to fly out. He walks off the field, and before going down the stairs to the dugout, blows a kiss to his wife, Jacqueline, in the stands. The Marlins reclaimed the lead in the fifth, putting him in line for the win.
Let's be happy for him, like Colin was.
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