Martinez brings relief in more ways than one

Utility man takes the mound and pitches scoreless ninth inning

Martinez brings relief in more ways than one

CLEVELAND -- On a long night, Michael Martinez gave his Indians teammates a reason to smile. They clapped and shouted from Cleveland's dugout in the ninth inning on Thursday, while the utility man more than lived up to his title in his first career pitching appearance.

In a 10-4 loss to the White Sox, who chased starter Josh Tomlin out of the game in the second, and then piled on some late runs against the Tribe bullpen, Martinez was happy to help. By logging one shutout inning, Martinez saved manager Terry Francona from calling at least one more reliever into a lopsided contest.

"That's why I'm here," Martinez said through team translator Anna Bolton. "I'm here to help out whenever they need me. I play almost every single position, so I try to get in and help whenever I can."

Martinez was then asked if "pitcher" needed to be listed when mentioning the many positions he plays.

The utility man let out a laugh, and replied, "No."

After Chicago scored three runs and sent eight batters to the plate in the eighth inning, Francona turned to Martinez for the ninth. The manager had already used relievers Shawn Armstrong, Boone Logan, Zach McAllister and Dan Otero. Next up would have been setup man Bryan Shaw, but Francona preferred not to burn another arm.

"I don't like doing it," Francona said. "It's no fun to lose. Using up your pitching makes it worse."

Martinez is the first position player to make a pitching appearance this season in the Majors.

According to Statcast™, Martinez averaged 80 mph and topped out at 83 mph, while facing Yolmer Sanchez, Omar Narvaez, Leury Garcia and Tim Anderson. Martinez threw 12 pitches -- all registering as changeups, even though he said he threw fastballs and sinkers -- allowed a double (Garcia) and generated three groundouts.

Martinez was the first position player to pitch for the Indians since last season, when catcher Chris Gimenez did so on July 3 (against Toronto) and Aug. 27 (against Texas). Before Gimenez, Francona also used Ryan Raburn (once in '13 and '15) and David Murphy ('15) on the mound in his time managing the Indians.

Martinez had never pitched in the Majors, but did log 1 2/3 innings in the Minors in 2007.

"It was a lot of fun," Martinez said.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.