Pirates pitcher Chris Jakubauskas was felled by a line drive to the head off the bat of Astros slugger Lance Berkman on Saturday in the first inning. The incident came on his 12th pitch of the game, or 11 pitches after he hoped it would.
"That's obviously not how I hoped my day would go," said Jakubauskas, who was making his first start of the season for Pittsburgh. "Ideally you never put a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform on, because it is incredibly humiliating. But if you have to, you just hope you are knocked out as soon as possible hopefully before anyone you know sees you playing for the Pirates."
Jakubauskas did not lose consciousness after being hit, but was woozy and moaning in pain.
"We were really worried about him," said Pirates manager John Russell. "Our trainer asked him if he knew where he was, and he said: 'Pitching for the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.' We couldn't bear to tell him the truth."
It wasn't until hours later at the hospital, surrounded by friends and family, that Jakabauskas was told the reality of the situation: he was a Pittsburgh Pirate.
"I'm not going to lie it wasn't easy at first," he said. "But then it all started coming back to me and there was solace knowing that I was only on the mound for two-thirds of an inning. And, best of all, I'm going to be out for a few weeks so I won't have to put a Pirates jersey on again any time soon, if ever again."
Jakubauskas says he purposely threw the Astros fastballs right down the middle of the plate, and then jutted his face out towards the batter. On his 12th pitch, the strategy paid off. Pirates starter Zach Duke says he respects his teammate's approach.
"That was a great idea," he said. "All this time I've been trying to pitch well, hoping my contract would get too big and they'd trade me. But getting hit in the face with a line drive? Yeah, that's a much faster ticket out of here. I'm trying that in my next start."
Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche said he said a prayer for his teammate as he lay writhing on the mound.
"Watching something like that really puts everything into perspective," he said. "It makes you count your blessings. Like, thank God I don't play for the Orioles. I can't even imagine how hopeless that is."