LeMahieu HR ends inning, no more early exits for pitchers

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Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher JT Brubaker delivers during the first inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game against the New York Yankees in Tampa, Fla., Saturday, March 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

New York Yankees star DJ LeMahieu launched a three-run homer, and that was all for Pittsburgh starter JT Brubaker.

Brubaker walked off the mound with two outs in the bottom of the second inning, having thrown 49 pitches Saturday. And taking advantage of a rule put in place for early spring training games, the rest of the Pirates left the field, too.

Starting Sunday, no more “roll over” breaks like that. Managers won't be able to call off innings at any point to protect hurlers because of high pitch counts.

That's fine with Texas skipper Chris Woodward.

“Now that we can’t, it’s no longer an option. So we’ve either got to let that guy go or we’ve got to have somebody warming up,” Woodward said. “So it’s actually good, because we need to start playing real baseball, we need to start playing like real games.”

But what if those innings weren't cut short?

“I had our analyst guys kind of mock up a run expectancy, two outs if we rolled it, what was the run expectancy there? It’s like .35 — so we’ve won a few games at 7.2 to 4.8, that type of thing. Bases loaded, one out, like there’s a 1.9 run expectancy there, whatever," Woodward said.

“But I mean, I’m over it. I want some even numbers, some even integers like this, let’s just go real numbers here — 5-4 win, yes,” he said.