Sunday Shenanigans 12: A Triple Play for the Ages

Sunday Shenanigans 12: A Triple Play for the Ages

by June 20, 2021 0 comments

The history of baseball lasts over one hundred years, so whenever something unique happens, it is incredibly surprising. Triple-plays are also rare, so those are equally surprising.

This week, we had a perfect blend of them. The New York Yankees, who may not be having a great season, turned a relatively standard triple-play earlier this season when White Sox rookie Andrew Vaughn grounded into an around-the-horn triple-play, ruining a late-inning rally for the White Sox in a tie game. But that would not be the last time the Yanks turned a triple-play this season, not even through mid-June.

Background

In a game against the Blue Jays in New York this week, the Yankees were the road team. If you forgot, the Blue Jays are still playing in Buffalo while the border situation gets slowly sorted out. The pitcher on the mound to start the game for the Yanks was Michael King, who did not get off to a great start. Marcus Semien walked, then Bo Bichette had a weak single. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third with nobody out for potential MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Given Guerrero Jr.’s speed, an around-the-horn triple play would not be off the table before the wild pitch. But after it, getting out of the inning unscathed seemed impossible for King. Luck and bad baserunning were on his side.

Oh No, Toronto!

Guerrero Jr. failed to capitalize, hitting a weak grounder to King, who threw to DJ LeMahieu at first for the out. However, an awful baserunning decision made this play far from over. As Semien retreated to third, Bichette ran to the next base, meaning there were about to be two Blue Jays at the same base. This is Bichette’s fault, as there would be little reason for Semien to run on contact with no outs. Bichette could not go back either, as LeMahieu quickly threw to shortstop Gleyber Torres, covering second base.

Here is where things get stupid. Semien, seeing Bichette running to him, thinks that he needs to go home. At this point, he probably should just stay at the bag while Bichette takes the loss and is tagged out. But that doesn’t happen, leaving two separate rundowns to occur.

Torres does the smart thing, and focuses on the lead runner, throwing to the catcher, Gary Sanchez. This initiated a rundown with Semien between Sanchez and third baseman Gio Urshela. Urshela got the ball and tagged out Semien. But when the throw went to Urshela, Bichette thought he could at least take the base closest to him at third. But by this point, Torres was covering that base while second baseman Tyler Wade was at the other. Urshela made a heads-up move, turning around after making the tag and tossing to Torres, who tagged out Bichette for the third out. It was close at third but after review, the call stood, and King was out of the jam.

History!

This play signaled two firsts in MLB history, neither truly surprising. Adding to the one against Chicago earlier, the Yankees had turned two triple-plays in a season for the first time in their prestigious history. But when you score the play, it goes from King to LeMahieu to Torres to Sanchez to Urshela back to Torres, or 1-3-6-2-5-6. This was also the first time that combination led to three outs on one play ever.

The game continued, as the Yankees won a wild one by a score of 8-4. Aaron Judge later robbed a home run, and the Yankees took a road sweep. But no sweep or robbed home run can compare to the chaos that happened just one inning into the game.

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