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Big League Stew

Jon Rauch pitches to Jose Altuve in baseball’s version of David vs. Goliath

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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Jon Rauch (6-11) vs. Jose Altuve (5-5) (MLB.TV via Getting Blanked)

One of the best things about baseball is that you can be any size or shape to play professionally. And never was that more evident than on Tuesday night in Houston when baseball's tallest player pitched to its shortest in a true David vs. Goliath matchup.

For those keeping score at home, Jon Rauch of the New York Mets stands 6-foot-11 while Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros stands 5-foot-5.  Rauch got the better of the eighth-inning at-bat by inducing a line out, but it was Altuve who went home with the victory as the Astros beat the Mets 6-3.

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(AP file)

The difference between the odd couple worked out to 18 inches — 28 if you count the height of the pitcher's mound —  but it's far from the biggest height discrepancy in baseball history.

That honor, of course, belongs to the 29-inch differential (not including the mound) that existed between Eddie Gaedel of the St. Louis Browns (3-foot-7) and Bob Cain of the Detroit Tigers (6-feet) during Bill Veeck's famous lineup stunt in 1951.

However, if we're talking about the biggest non-stunt mismatches in history, Rauch-Altuve has to be up there, if not right at the top. Altuve — who was listed with a smirk at 5-foot-7 in the minors— is the first player since Kansas City's Freddie Patek in 1981 to be officially listed in the majors at 65 inches.

Rauch, meanwhile, is the tallest player in big-league history at just a hair under 7-feet.

(And before you even suggest it, even the eight at-bats between David Eckstein and Randy Johnson only featured a spread of 16 inches. Rauch has faced Eckstein six times.)

This could be far from the final meeting between the two because the speedy Altuve is hitting .367 for the Astros. He played 57 games in 2011 so he's not eligible for rookie of the year consideration. But he's already gaining a reputation among pitchers as a tough out.

No matter how tall they are.

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