Backup catcher Sucre spins scoreless frame
Backstop induces double play in first career pitching performance
HOUSTON -- Backup catcher Jesus Sucre became the fourth Mariners position player ever to pitch in a game and the first since 2008 as he threw a scoreless eighth inning while Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon looked to save his bullpen in a 10-0 loss to the Astros on Friday.
Throwing all fastballs between 84 to 90 mph, Sucre gave up a leadoff single to Marwin Gonzalez, then got a double-play 5-4-3 grounder by Preston Tucker and a quick ground out by Jake Marisnick to end the inning.
Sucre needed just seven pitches to complete the first mound appearance of his baseball career. The 27-year-old Venezuelan said he'd never pitched, even in Little League.
"They told me in the seventh inning, 'Hey, you need to go to the 'pen. You might pitch today,'" Sucre said. "I was like, 'Alright, I can go out there.' It was kind of fun. I did it because the team needed it today, but I don't really want to be out there. I like being a catcher too much."
With ace Felix Hernandez lasting just one-third of an inning one day after J.A. Happ made it through only 2 1/3 innings in Cleveland, McClendon wanted to save some of his bullpen after using four relievers to get to the eighth.
McClendon indicated a roster move might be needed to bolster the club before rookie Mike Montgomery takes the hill on Saturday, though the Mariners don't have much time to get reinforcements to Houston for the 1:10 p.m. PT game.
"You can't stretch your bullpen that much and think you'll be OK on the third day," McClendon said. "It's just not possible. And we've got a young kid going tomorrow."
Catcher Jamie Burke was the last Mariners position player to pitch, giving up one run and one hit in a game against the Tigers in 2008. First baseman John Mabry pitched two-thirds of an inning against the Rays in 2000 and infielder Manny Castillo threw 2 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays in a game in 1983.
Sucre has hit .059 (1-for-17) in eight games this season, but is known for his strong throwing arm behind the plate. And he showed plenty of velocity as he opened at 84-86 mph in his first batter and gradually increased to 90 by his final pitch.
"Easiest 88 with sink I've ever seen," said starting catcher Mike Zunino.
Sucre said he took a peak up at the radar gun on one of his pitches midway through the frame.
"I kind of looked one time and I hit 87, I think," he said. "I think that's pretty good for me."