Typically, when a baseball player is playing way the hell out of position — like a first baseman pitching, or a pitcher playing in the field — it means something’s gone horribly wrong for at least one team involved.
But not on Wednesday.
Rays closer Sergio Romo played third base in the ninth inning of a one-run game.
And it was a brilliant move by manager Kevin Cash.
In the eighth inning, Romo entered the game, as he usually does, to pitch.
He escaped a two-on, one-out jam, surrendering a sac fly that cut the Rays lead to one.
But rather than take the hill in the top of the ninth for a five-out save, Romo slotted in at third base to open the frame.
Leading off the inning for the Yankees was Greg Bird, who mashes righties like Romo.
So Cash brought lefty Jonny Venters in. But the manager wanted to keep Romo in for the right-handed hitters slotted in after Bird.
Because Bird has only hit three groundballs to the left side of the infield all year, third base was the perfect place to hide the closer.
Sure enough, Bird hit into the shift. Romo took the mound, again, and worked around an error to slam the door on a 3-2 victory.
Sergio Romo is the first player to play third base and be credited with a save in the same game since Joe Gedeon in 1913.
— Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) July 25, 2018
Cash has been using innovative reliever deployments all season. The Rays have gotten just 56 starts from traditional starters through 102 games.
The manager has pieced the rest of the games together using the bullpen.
And, to an extent, it’s worked. Though the Rays weren’t expected to win in 2018, they’re 52-50, and nine games out of the AL’s second wild card spot.