The crowd had dwindled, the oppressive heat and blowout score thinning its Dodger Stadium ranks. Voices from the stands could be heard easily, like when one woman shouted:
“Hey, Drew, why didn’t you start the game?”
That would be catcher Drew Butera, who at that point was not squatting behind the plate but throwing off the mound.
The Dodgers were down 13-3 Wednesday night when Manager Don Mattingly asked Butera if he could pitch the ninth. His reaction?
“Oh, my God!” Butera said. “It’s never fun. A little nervous, but obviously once you get out there it kind of calms down. But it’s a situation you don’t want to be in, just mainly because we’re down. Just try not to get hurt, get through it.”
He did a lot better than that. He retired the Marlins -- who had already managed 17 hits -- in order.
Dodgers starter Paul Maholm, who was charged with 10 runs (five earned) in 3 2/3 innings, had a quick message for him as Butera left the field.
“Thanks for making it look so easy,” Maholm said.
Butera had appeared in a mop-up role once before in his career, throwing a scoreless inning with one strikeout for the Twins in 2012. He kept his perfect 0.00 ERA intact.
“I think it’s just the fact they have no idea what I’m throwing,” he said. “It’s almost like you’re taking BP, you’re so comfortable up there and the next thing you’re out. I guess. I really have no idea.”
Butera ended the top of the ninth by striking out outfielder Miguel Ozuna on three pitches, the last a 94 mph fastball.
“I blacked out,” Butera said. “I don’t know what happened.”
He first entered the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth, striking out himself.
His father, former major-league catcher Sal Butera, had watched it all on television, so somebody is getting Time Warner Cable.
“He texted me right after I got in,” Butera said. “He said I looked like a pitcher hitting. Thanks, dad.”