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Brewers-Pirates: Pittsburgh Could Have Had Its Cake and Eaten It, Too

Tom AuSenior Analyst IIMay 5, 2009

ST. LOUIS - APRIL 06:  Paul Maholm #28 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during Opening Day on April 6, 2009  at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Pirates were leading 3-1 at home, going into the top of the eighth. Against their nemesis, the Milwaukee Brewers. The Pirates' ace, Paul Maholm, was on the mound. He got one out, then gave up a walk, having made only 98 pitches in the game.

There was a call to the bullpen, normally a reliable option. Tyler Yates got one out, then got into trouble. Another reliever. By the middle of the eighth, the score was tied 3-3. Milwaukee went on to win 7-4.

For once, the bullpen couldn't get it done. Oh, for the chance to put Maholm back on the mound.

Once you take a pitcher off the mound, you can't put him back on, can you? Not if you take him out of the game. But you can take him off the mound without taking him out of the game—by making him a position player, as one manager did last year.

That's what should probably have been done with Maholm. First base would have been as good a place to park him as any. The other manager chose left field.

Taking Maholm off the mound was a reasonable choice. So, too, would have been a decision to leave him there. But the best idea would have been to keep both options open, by taking him off the mound (to let him rest) but not taking him off the field. That's a relatively innovative technique, but one that should be explored in greater frequency.

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