Jonny on the spot: Gomes pitches 9th inning
Outfielder is first position player to pitch for the Braves since 1989
ATLANTA -- Jonny Gomes might revere baseball's sanctity more than any other current Major Leaguer. But the veteran Braves outfielder was still cognizant of the fact that he provided some levity and entertainment when he made his first career pitching performance during Friday night's 15-4 loss to the Yankees at Turner Field.
"Any time you're between the lines in a big league ballgame, it's not really a laughing matter, when you're up or down," Gomes said. "With that being said, it doesn't take the loss out of the loss column, but hopefully there were a couple chuckles."
Gomes certainly provided some excitement on what was an otherwise miserable night for the Braves, who trailed 5-2 when they inserted their first reliever during the second inning. The 34-year-old outfielder created some anticipation as he threw 10 warmup pitches in the bullpen during the eighth inning and then sprinted toward the mound to begin the ninth with Atlanta trailing 13-3.
Gomes became the first Braves position player to pitch in a game since John Russell faced just one batter on June 25, 1989. He also became the first Braves position player to pitch a full inning since Terry Blocker on June 5, 1989.
"It's not a good feeling," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of putting a position player on the mound. "I know that Jonny was having a good time out there. But as you sit in the dugout, you always worry that somebody in that position could get hurt or even worse you would need to bring [Edwin] Jackson in anyways to get him out of the inning."
Pitching strictly from the stretch and featuring nothing but batting-practice fastballs that sat between 65-71 mph, Gomes allowed a pair of runs during his one-inning stint. He surrendered Chris Young's leadoff homer and then consecutive doubles to John Ryan Murphy and Brett Gardner.
Gomes tipped his hat out of respect toward the Yankees' dugout when Murphy did not try to score on Gardner's double.
"I wasn't going to light up the radar gun on purpose," Gomes said. "I just grabbed it four-seam and threw it right down the middle. I throw batting practice to people in the offseason. It looked like batting practice the first couple of batters."
Gomes retired each of the final three batters he faced and pumped his fist when he concluded his outing by getting Bryan Mitchell to look at a called third strike.
Though Gomes had never previously pitched in a competitive setting at any point of his life, he took advantage of this opportunity to create a memory and aid an Atlanta bullpen that has been heavily taxed over the past few weeks.
"If I ever get on the mound and it's serious, we're in a lot of trouble to be honest," Gomes said. "That is the first time I've ever been on a mound. I'm not like the Little League pitcher. I caught majority of the way up. So, that's the first time I've ever thrown to a batter."