The Cubs needed 15 innings to beat the Reds last night, finally putting them to sleep with a Javier Baez grand slam. But before that, Cubs manager Joe Maddon, everybody’s favorite crafty old baseball man, did some fun things with his lineup.
Pitchers are hard to come by in a game that lasts 15 innings, and so Maddon did something that a guy whose team is lousy with great hitters can do: he sacrificed a bat for another pitcher. In the bottom of the 13th inning, Maddon replaced pitcher Trevor Cahill with Joel Peralta, and simultaneously put pitcher Travis Wood in left field in place of Chris Coghlan.
Wood came up in the top of the 14th and returned to left field in the bottom half of the inning. Peralta was replaced by right-handed reliever Spencer Patton, who retired righty Brandon Phillips for the first out of the inning. Maddon then swapped Patton and Wood to get a lefty-on-lefty matchup with Jay Bruce. After getting Bruce to ground out, Wood went back to left field, and Patton returned to the mound to retire the right-handed Adam Duvall.
After Baez’s grand slam gave the Cubs the lead in the top of the 15th, Wood took the mound in the bottom half of the inning to close things out. Relief pitcher Pedro Strop was put in left field in case there was trouble, but Wood got through the inning easily.
Maddon isn’t the first manager to put a pitcher in the outfield for the sake of squeezing as many batters out of them as possible. Former Astros manager Bo Porter played the trick as recently as 2014, and many other managers have used it in the past. Luckily for Maddon, Wood batting third in the top of the 14th didn’t come back to bite him in the ass, and nobody on the Reds managed to hit a ball toward any of the pitchers he put in left. Instead, he got some clutch outs from Wood and a big grand slam from Javier Baez, and he gets to go on being smart and cool.