When a moment 15 years in the making finally arrived, Brendan Ryan didn't need any convincing.
With the result all but decided in the eighth inning of the Yankees' 15-1 loss to the Astros on Tuesday night, the 33-year-old infielder was summoned to the mound for the first time in his nine-year career. It was the first time he pitched in a game since his senior year at Notre Dame High School in California, Ryan recalled.
"I remind them almost every day," he said, "if the moment comes, I'm more than ready."
Ryan, who allowed two hits in two innings, was the only Yankees pitcher who didn't surrender a run, and gave the bullpen some extra rest a night before an afternoon game.
"You can't make a mockery of anything," Ryan said, "so I just did my best to throw strikes. Didn't want to walk anybody. I would have loved to have gotten a strikeout."
Ryan, whose fastball peaked at 86 mph, got his former roommate in St. Louis, Colby Rasmus, to ground out to begin the ninth inning.
"He swung and missed at one," Ryan said, "so I guess I can get him with that one."
On Twitter, Ryan's wife, Sharyn, posted: "Not happy about this game, but Brendan got to live out a little dream! My husband, the pitcher?!"
Said Ryan: "She's seen me rehearse on almost a nightly basis. I mean, this is a big moment for me. Again, hate for it to be in a lopsided game but, yeah, she knows how much I've wanted to get back out there."
Ryan has played in 856 big-league games. He's played with three different teams (Cardinals, Mariners, Yankees). And he's been taking notes from baseball's best the entire time.
"King Felix [Felix Hernandez] taught me his changeup grip, so I tried to emulate that," Ryan said. "Not exactly the same pitch, I almost two-hopped [catcher John Ryan Murphy], but he went away from that. He didn't call that.
"I tried to vary my times and stuff, kind of like [Adam] Wainwright used to. I tried to take a piece from everybody."
A dream moment, yes, but when Ryan finally stepped on the Yankee Stadium mound, his priorities changed a little. Seeing 6-4, 230-pound Evan Gattis with a piece of lumber in his hand will do that.
"I just didn't want to die, you know?" Ryan said with a smile. "I told Gattis, 'Please don't hit the ball back at me. I want to live.'
"I feel like I can't be that happy or anything because we just got our butts kicked, but it kind of was a bucket-list moment, so, I don't know, take it for what it's worth."
With Erik Boland