That’ll leave a mark: Bush survives liner, not HR
But, considering what happened to starting pitcher Dave Bush, it could have been much worse.
Bush survived a line drive off his pitching arm in the first inning but didn’t escape without a defeat as the Florida Marlins took a 4-3 victory Thursday night on the strength of right-hander Josh Johnson’s pitching performance and first major-league homer.
“Dave Bush was absolutely unbelievable,” manager Ken Macha said of his starting pitcher gutting out six innings after being struck above the pitching elbow by a line drive off the bat of Hanley Ramirez.
As for the thought of Bush having to exit in the first inning with the bullpen already chewed up by a series of short starts, Macha said, “That would have been a disaster.”
Bush retired the first two hitters before Ramirez hit a liner that caromed off the pitcher’s arm to second base for an infield hit. The blow raised an immediate red welt, and Bush admitted he was afraid at first to assess the damage.
“You get hit by a baseball at 100 mph, it’s not a good situation,” said Bush. “There are a few moments of being a little scared. I knew it was close to the elbow. It was kind of numb at first.
“I didn’t see it, didn’t have time to move. I was fortunate it didn’t break anything. The perils of pitching, I guess. We’re awfully close and somewhat defenseless.”
Unsure how he would feel, Bush took some warm-up tosses and decided to continue. He wore a compression sleeve the remainder of his outing to keep the swelling down but the ball struck with such force it left an imprint of its stitches on Bush’s arm.
“We only get to play every five days,” said Bush, who wasn’t sure if he’d take his next turn on schedule. “I like to make it last as long as I can.”
I felt comfortable enough to continue to pitch.
“If there was any point where I thought I couldn’t do it or it hurt too much, I would have told the trainers. It got progressively more sore as the game wore on. I just tried to continue to make sure my mechanics were sound.”
Johnson held the Brewers hitless for three innings before J.J. Hardy opened the fourth with a soft single to shallow center. With one down, Prince Fielder sent a drive to right-center that eluded a diving Jeremy Hermida and rolled toward the wall for an RBI triple.
Johnson limited the damage, however, by catching Mike Cameron looking at strike three and retiring Corey Hart on a fly to right. It was a brutal night for Cameron, who struck out in all four of his at-bats.
The 1-0 lead didn’t last long. Jorge Cantu led off the bottom of the inning with a double down the left-field line and Hermida followed with a single into the hole at short, with Hardy losing his footing after fielding the ball.
Cantu moved to third on Dan Uggla’s fly to deep center and scored when John Baker smacked a single to center. Cody Ross flied out to left, but Johnson got all of a 1-0 fastball right down the middle and drove it over the center-field wall for his first career home run.
“It’s a long way out there, too,” said Bush, who was trying to go away with the 88-mph pitch and missed badly. “It was not a very good pitch, that’s for sure.
“It’s disappointing to have the game decided that way, but it wasn’t a cheap one. You hit a ball 400-some feet to dead center, you’re going to get a home run out of it.”
Fielder proved that theory correct in the eighth with a two-run shot to center off reliever Dan Meyer, who took over for Johnson after Ryan Braun doubled with one out. But that was it for the Brewers, who were closed out by Matt Lindstrom in the ninth after pinch-hitter Jody Gerut (2 for 16) grounded into a double play.
“That was a ‘winnable’ game,” said Macha, whose club dropped three of four to the Marlins. “They had their best guy going out there. It’s a tough one to lose that way.”