It's a Maddon world: Three pitchers played left field for the Cubs, and it worked
There was some straight-up wackiness in Tuesday's Cubs-Reds game, which Chicago won in the 15th inning, 7-2, after an RBI single from Kris Bryant and a grand slam by Javier Baez sealed the deal. That slam, by the way, was a first for the Cubs franchise:
FROM ELIAS: Javiez Baez's 15th-inning grand slam is the latest in Cubs history.- Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) June 29, 2016
As per usual in the late innings of close National League games, the Cubs ran through many options out of their bullpen after Jon Lester departed in the eighth. More to the point, they found themselves needing to get creative in the final two innings of the marathon contest.
What this meant, amusingly enough, was that manager Joe Maddon could turn to three pitchers -- lefty Travis Wood and right-handers Spencer Patton and Pedro Strop -- as a three-headed pitching/left-field platoon tag-team for the 14th and 15th.
Patton took the mound to start the 14th in place of reliever Joel Peralta, which is a "normal" thing to see in the box score. Then, things got weird:
Got that? So Patton retired Brandon Phillips. Patton moved to left field and Wood came in to pitch. Wood retired Jay Bruce. Patton came in to pitch and then Wood moved to left field. Patton retired Adam Duvall.
After Maddon's maneuverings worked and the Cubs survived the 14th, they had a lead to protect -- so in came reliever Pedro Strop, who replaced pitcher Jason Hammel (who had pinch-hit for Patton during Chicago's go-ahead rally in the top of the inning) in ... wait for it ... left field. He was excited to report for duty out there:
This whole phenomenon is pretty rare, considering Tuesday was the first time in 30 years that multiple pitchers moved from the mound to outfield and back in the same game. The last time was in 1986, when the Mets did so with Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell:
Credit to the Cubs for revisiting the history books in dramatic fashion on Tuesday, using three pitchers in the field in the same game for the first time since 1913, and doing so in the late innings of a hard-fought extra-innings road game.
Left field depth chart: pic.twitter.com/1RUGXqlab3- #VoteCubs (@Cubs) June 29, 2016
It sounds ridiculous, but it worked perfectly. Catcher/beloved team patriarch David Ross summed it up nicely after it was all over:
What a game! Think that is the definition of a Team win!! @Cubs- David Ross (@D_Ross3) June 29, 2016
After all the furor died down, MLB.com's Cody Pace caught up with Maddon and Wood about the night's activities. Said Maddon of the strategy toward the end and what made this whole thing possible:
The skipper was pretty confident in throwing Wood out there, too:
Wood told Pace this was his first stint in the outfield since high school, though he and the Cubs had spoken about the opportunity in the past: