|Mills trying rare tricks to get his Astros a rare win. (Getty Images)|
The Astros entered Friday night on a 10-game losing streak. They had actually lost 23 of their last 25. Surely manager Brad Mills would do just about anything to get out of that funk, including playing a pitcher in the outfield for one batter.
Yes, that's what he did with left-handed reliever Wesley Wright.
With the Astros clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning against the Pirates, Mills went with Wright against the lefty Alex Presley. Wright induced a groundout. The right-handed Andrew McCutchen then came to bat, which left Garrett Jones on deck and a switch-hitting Neil Walker following Jones.
So Mills simply moved Wright to right field for McCutchen's at-bat. McCutchen doubled, and Mills went back to Wright, bringing in Brian Bogusevic to take over in right. Wright would get both Jones and Walker out, keeping the Astros on top by one.
Alas, the Astros blew the save in the ninth inning. In fact, they lost the lead on a wild pitch. These are the 2012 Astros, after all.
Anyway, Mills' move isn't without precedent. Off the top of my head, I recall the Cubs doing something similar with Sean Marshall. It was July 12, 2009 against the Cardinals. Then-manager Lou Piniella moved Marshall to left field for one hitter before bringing him back. It worked for the Cubs, too, as Aaron Heilman got a strikeout before Marshall recorded two outs to leave the bases loaded.