Outfielder Schumaker pitches ninth to save 'pen
CINCINNATI -- As far as Reds outfielder Skip Schumaker is concerned, if he's going to have to pitch, he might as well do the best job he can. Schumaker was needed to take the mound Thursday in an 8-0 loss vs. the Braves as Cincinnati's woes continued to compound.
Moved from left field to the mound, Schumaker worked a scoreless ninth inning with one walk.
"Whenever you're in the game as a position player pitching, it's the worst-possible scenario because you know you're getting your butt kicked," Schumaker said. "Whenever you're out there, you want to make it as quick as you can and get out of there and not try to make it a circus by walking everybody or, God forbid, hit somebody and hurt somebody."
It was the first time the Reds needed a position player to pitch since 2009, when shortstop Paul Janish toed the rubber during two blowouts on July 6 at Philadelphia and May 13 vs. the Brewers.
This was Schumaker's fourth career big league relief appearance. Thursday's outing lowered his career ERA to 4.50. He pitched twice for the Dodgers last season and once for the Cardinals in 2011.
By comparison, Reds starter David Holmberg has a 14.00 career ERA in his three big league starts that totaled nine innings. Holmberg, called up to spot start Thursday, put the tired bullpen in a bind when he lasted only 2 2/3 innings and allowed six earned runs.
"I would say when the highlight of your game is Skip Schumaker threw a scoreless inning, it says enough about the game in of itself," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It was like everything else he does -- high intensity. He was invested. He didn't want to give up a run. A little bit of tight zone but we worked around it."
Schumaker reached 90 mph on two of his 17 pitches. He was often up in the high-80s mph. With his pitching, tired relievers like Jumbo Diaz, Sam LeCure and Manny Parra could take a night off.
"You want to save your bullpen," Schumaker said. "There's no reason to throw somebody else out there. The game was kind of out of hand anyway. You want to look forward to tomorrow and kind of make it quick."
Schumaker got the first batter, Evan Gattis, to fly out to right field. Andrelton Simmons followed with a line out to center field. After a B.J. Upton walk, Schumaker got pinch-hitter Ramiro Pena to ground out to second base.
"He was nasty, made me look bad," Simmons joked. "He was filthy. He was pretty good; he came in, threw strikes, messed a little bit with the hitters by throwing a couple of changeups or whatever that was. He got the job done."
The Reds are just hoping they don't need Schumaker's services on the mound anytime soon. It's the worst stretch of the team's season, having dropped six games in a row, nine of 10 and 11 of 13.
"We're trying everything," Schumaker said. "We tried to come in late. Stretch, not stretch, take BP at different times, have meetings, not have meetings, trying to mess around. You're trying to do anything you can to disrupt what's going on. It's kind of tough to figure out. We have the guys. Everybody is good enough to make a run at this thing. We picked a wrong time for a bad stretch."