O's catcher Sucre pitches 1-2-3 9th on 9 pitches

BALTIMORE -- For catcher Jesus Sucre, less was more.

Pitching in the ninth inning of the Baltimore Orioles' 12-2 loss on Monday night, Sucre relied exclusively on soft stuff to retire the top of the Chicago White Sox's lineup in order. The 30-year-old backstop needed just nine pitches to set down Leury Garcia, Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu, who had combined to go 5-for-13 with a home run and five RBIs through the first eight innings. Sucre induced infield grounders from Garcia and Moncada, then got Abreu on a fly out to right field to end the frame.

MLB Statcast classified all of Sucre's pitches as breaking balls, presumably due to their velocity (or lack thereof). But after the game, the veteran catcher revealed that eight of the nine pitches he threw were fastballs.

"It's more easy for the hitters if you throw harder," said Sucre, whose mound appearance on Monday was the sixth of his career. Previously, his fastball had been clocked as fast as 90.3 mph.

"If you don't throw hard, it's going to be hard for the hitters," he said.

Against the White Sox, Sucre's hardest pitch checked in at 69.3 mph. His softest offering was his only curveball, a 53.6-mph spinner that he threw to Moncada.

Sucre became the ninth position player to pitch in the majors this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He joins Dodgers catcher Russell Martin and Indians backstop Kevin Plawecki as the only non-hurlers to record 1-2-3 innings.

The Orioles, who have already sent utility man Hanser Alberto and first baseman Chris Davis to the hill this year, are the only team that has used multiple position players to pitch. Davis took the mound on Saturday in the finale of a doubleheader sweep in which the Orioles lost 16-7 to the Minnesota Twins.

"We've been having tough games the last couple days," said Sucre, whose team has lost five of its past six contests, and 14 of its past 18. "I'm here to help my guys."

Prior to this season, the O's had used emergency hurlers a total of nine times in 65 seasons since coming to Baltimore. After Monday's loss to Chicago, the last-place Orioles have a 6.37 team ERA that ranks last in the majors.