Former Baby Cakes pitcher Brian Moran has historic family matchup in MLB debut

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Brian Moran
(Photo: Parker Waters)

After 10 minor-league seasons, New Orleans Baby Cakes relief pitcher Brian Moran finally got his big-league call-up to the Florida Marlins when the rosters were expanded on September 1.  Major-league debuts are always memorable events for a rookie, but when a rookie plays against his brother in one, there’s extra drama.

That’s exactly what happened on Thursday when Moran faced his brother Colin Moran of the Pittsburgh Pirates in a relief appearance for the Marlins.  It was the first time in the modern era of major-league baseball that two brothers faced each other, when one was making his big-league debut.

Brian recorded his first major-league strikeout when he caught his brother looking on the third strike.  Brian faced four Pirates batters in his relief appearance without yielding a hit.  Miami wound up winning the game, 10-7.

The matchup occurred in the fourth inning of a game that had no consequence in the standings, since both Miami and Pittsburgh are at the bottom of their respective divisions.

However, the game was especially significant for 30-year-old Brian, as he had toiled in the minors for ten seasons before getting his big opportunity.  Most recently, he had been a mainstay in the New Orleans Baby Cakes bullpen, appearing in 43 games that included striking out an impressive 77 batters in 60 innings and recording a 3.15 ERA.

Brian had been a seventh-round pick of the Seattle Mariners in the 2009 MLB draft.  He has also played in the Braves, Dodgers, and Rockies organizations, before signing with the Marlins for the 2019 season.

Younger brother Colin is completing his fourth major-league season, the last two as the regular third baseman for the Pirates.  He had been a first-round pick (7th overall) of the Marlins in 2013 and played briefly for the Houston Astros in 2016 and 2017.

Major-league brothers have faced each other before, although not in the unique situation in which the Morans found themselves.  Boston’s Alex Gaston broke up brother Milt’s (St. Louis Browns) no-hitter in 1926, getting a single with one out in the ninth inning.  The Houston Astros’ Joe Niekro hit only one home run in his 22-year career, which came off his brother Phil who was pitching for Atlanta in a 1976 game.

The Moran brothers have baseball in their bloodlines.  They are nephews of the Surhoff brothers who played in the majors (B.J. Surhoff from 1987-2005 and Rich Surhoff in 1985).

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Richard Cuicchi

New Orleans baseball historian

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Richard Cuicchi, Founder of the Metro New Orleans Area Baseball Player Database and a New Orleans area baseball historian, maintains website. He also authored the book, Family Ties: A Comprehensive Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives. He has contributed to numerous SABR-sponsored Bio Project and Games Project books.

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