6/9 Shifting around
In the ninth and 10th innings Friday, Dale Sveum used a five-man infield, bringing Joe Mather in from left field to play near second base. Had Mather ever done that before?
“The umpire asked me the same thing — he asked me the second time out there, ‘How many times have you done this?’ and I said, ‘Well, this is the second time,’” Mather said. “We had to do something kind of crazy.”
Mather was technically still a left fielder even though he was standing at second base.
“I like ‘rover,’” Mather said. “I don’t know what you’d call that. I was on top of second base. I’ve never seen that alignment either. It was kind of a cool alignment.”
In the ninth, it worked. The Twins had runners at first and third and one out. Alexi Casilla hit a grounder to the Cubs real second baseman, Darwin Barney, and he threw home for the force. Brian Dozier then flew out to end the inning.
In the 10th, Mather moved in again with runners at first and third and one out but Josh Willingham lined a single down the left field line for the game-winner. The Cubs almost needed six infielders.
“Being able to go infield to outfield has obviously been good for my career,” Mather said. “Even in dire situations, it’s nice to have a guy like that.”
Sveum made sure Mather knew what to do if the ball was hit to him.
“If he hit it hard, I would have tried to turn two,” Mather said. “If there was any play at the plate, go home. The first time it worked out great.”
– Carrie Muskat