Joe Maddon flip-flopped Brian Duensing and Steve Cishek from pitcher to left field twice in one inning
Baseball can get weird -- this is not a bad thing. And when something unusual happens, sometimes there's a strategy behind it. That's exactly what happened on Wednesday when Eric Thames stepped up to the plate.
In the bottom of the eighth inning during the Brewers' 1-0 win over the Cubs, Thames replaced Josh Hader as the pinch-hitter. Upon the announcement, Cubs managerJoe Maddon grabbed his lineup card and ran out to speak to the umpires. A change was made:
The change, in true Maddon form, was to have the current pitcher, Steve Cishek, go to left field and bring Brian Duensing in to face Thames. It seemed to work, as Duensing struck out Thames on four pitches:
It was time for the old switcheroo again. Maddon called for the flip-flop and Cishek switched gloves back, removed the sunglasses he needed for his short stint in the outfield, and found himself back on the mound:
And yes, Duensing replaced Cishek in left field.
But wait, there's more ...
Cishek was taken out of the game after Lorenzo Cain grounded out (this is all still occurring in the bottom of the eighth) so Willson Contreras, predominantly a catcher, took over Duensing's spot in left field, which meant, yep -- Duensing was back on the mound once again to face Christian Yelich:
According to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat, Maddon has spoken to Duensing and Cishek about this before. It was mainly about finding the right time to utilize it.
"It just popped -- Kyle Schwarber making the last out, a pitcher coming up third, Cishek starting and the way their batting order set up, it played out perfectly. You can't always do it, but it worked out today."
And when it came to Duensing, he was pretty apprehensive about the situation.
"It was a little terrifying, to be honest," he said. "A lot of praying going on out there that Cain hit it to right field and not left. It was fun. It's something I've never done before. Not that it was ever in a box, but I guess I can check it off."
Don't worry, Cain wasn't entirely sure about what was going on himself.
"I was actually confused on that because I did not see Cishek go to left field -- I did not see that at all," Cain told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "I was kind of excited to face the lefty, because I love facing lefties. It kind of broke my heart when I saw him [coming back to the mound]. I definitely didn't want any part of him. I had to battle. He's always been a tough at-bat for me."
This also isn't the first time Maddon has done this. Like the one time Travis Wood came into pitch from left field to face Leonys Martin during the eighth inning of a game in July 2016.
It's only crazy if it doesn't work.