May 18, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Padres manager Bud Black (20) walks back to the dugout following his second replay challenge in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
And now, batting eighth, pitcher Donn Roach.
That was the PA announcer’s call at Sunday’s game in Denver. Employing an uncommon strategy, San Diego Padres’ manager Bud Black batted his pitcher eighth and his third baseman ninth.
Why the unorthodox lineup? The starting pitcher for the game was Donn Roach, the rookie long reliever for the Padres. After starting pitcher Andrew Cashner went on the disabled list earlier in the week, Black decided to give Roach the start on Sunday. As a long reliever, Roach had not thrown more than 47 pitches in a game this year, that in a 4.1 inning relief stint in San Francisco in April. Black, after deciding that Roach would likely not throw more than 60 pitches in the game, decided to hit Roach eighth in the lineup to give him the option to pinch-hit for him earlier in the game.
"With Roach going three [innings] or so, and it depends on pitch-count, that spot will come up before the ninth spot,” Black said. “With a short starter, you’re able to use a pinch-hitter sooner.” h/t to Corey Brock at padres.mlb.com"
The strategy paid off. Roach was somewhat ineffective on the mound, allowing four runs in three innings, and his spot in the lineup came with a runner on second and two outs in the top of the fourth. Black put in his pinch-hitter, Will Venable, who drove home the run with a single. Just like he drew it up.
With Roach hitting eighth, Black employed a familiar AL strategy, putting a speed guy in the nine hole. Alexi Amarista hit ninth, effectively adding an additional lead-off-type hitter at the bottom/top of the order each subsequent time through the lineup.
Tony LaRussa, former manager of the Cardinals who was known for his innovative strategies, is one of the few NL managers to hit his pitchers eighth on a regular basis. LaRussa, voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in December, was recently hired as the new Chief of Baseball Operations for division rival Arizona.
Black had a good day managing, as he also successfully challenged two umpire’s calls during the game.
Black continues to impress with his game-management skills.