1st time since '08 two starting pitchers bat 8th in MLB game
DENVER (AP) For the first time since 2008, both teams batted their starting pitcher in the eighth spot Friday when the Colorado Rockies hosted the Chicago Cubs in their home opener.
Cubs lefty Travis Wood batted ahead of second baseman and No. 9 hitter Arismendy Alcantara and Rockies lefty Tyler Matzek batted ahead of second baseman D.J. LeMahieu.
Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa used to bat his pitcher in the eighth spot quite often and several managers occasionally followed suit.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon did it a several times in interleague games while with the Tampa Bay Rays and batted his starting pitcher in both of the Cubs' games against the Cardinals to start the season.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss copied him Friday.
''And I copied Tony,'' Maddon said. ''Our whole lives are one big plagiaristic moment.''
This marked the first game that both starting pitchers batted eighth since St. Louis' Joel Pineiro and Pittsburgh's Ian Snell did it on July 13, 2008, according to STATS.
''It lined up well against a left-handed starter,'' Weiss said after writing out his lineup with the pitcher batting out of the traditional ninth spot for the first time in his two-plus seasons as a manager. ''I wanted a dangerous bat in the two hole. And I prefer it to be right-handed, so it's Tulo. I wanted two position players hitting in front of him. So, that was the biggest reason.''
Maddon said he grilled La Russa about the strategy some years back while preparing for interleague play ''and now that I'm a National Leaguer, I've thought about it in more depth and I kind of like it.''
''One school of thought would be, especially at this time of year, you don't think your pitchers are going to go as deeply into the game,'' Maddon said. ''It provides that pinch-hitting spot a little bit sooner. However, with Travis Wood, he is our middle-inning pinch hitter anyway because he's such a good hitting pitcher. But primarily it permits you to pinch-hit sooner for a pitcher that you don't think is going to pitch more deeply into the game.
''And B, which I'm kind of liking even more, it provides a second leadoff hitter where you could hit a more prolific hitter in the two hole, i.e. Tulowitzki for the Rockies today.''
Wood has hit three home runs in each of the last two seasons.
Batting the pitcher ninth used to be one of the axioms of baseball. Even when Don Newcombe hit .359 with seven home runs and won 20 games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955, he always batted last.
''I just think it's one of those things that's always been done in a certain way so people think that your pitcher is supposed to hit ninth,'' Maddon said. ''The only time I think it could be viewed as a disadvantage is bases loaded, two outs, here comes the pitcher. But that could also happen in the nine hole.
''Last point, two outs, runner's on second base, here comes the eight hole, your pitcher is hitting: `Oh, I wish I had my (regular) eight-hole hitter there now.' (But) why would you pitch to that guy anyway in that situation and bring the pitcher up regardless?''