A triple play is one of the rarer things in baseball. Everything has to be just right for it to happen. There has to be at least two baserunners and no outs, and every fielder needs to be in the perfect place before they even know they have to be. And then one swing of the bat leads to three outs, a finished inning, and a relieved pitcher.
The Baltimore Orioles executed one of those rare triple plays on Thursday, a gorgeous one in their game against the Detroit Tigers. And just as things must be when a triple play happens, the inning was on the brink of being a disaster.
It was the top of the second, and Orioles starter Chris Tillman was having a tough time. He’d given up two runs in the first, and things weren’t going much better in the second: he opened the inning by allowing a double to Victor Martinez and a single to Mikie Mahtook. Standing on the precipice of what could have been a big inning for the Tigers, Tillman leaned in to face James McCann with runners on first and second.
On the 3-2 pitch, McCann swung and sent the ball scooting up the third base line, which led to one of the purest triple plays you’ll see: 5-4-3, with every out gotten on the bases. Manny Machado scooped up the ball and tagged third to get Martinez, then threw it to Jonathan Schoop. Schoop tagged second which got Mahtook out, and then relayed the ball to Chris Davis, who was standing right on first base. He got McCann by half a step, and the triple play was in the books. No missteps, no hesitation, just bang-bang-bang. It was so perfect that this gif, from MLB.com’s Cut4, should be next to the textbook definition of “triple play.”
The Orioles triple play was the fourth of the 2017 season, but it wasn’t their first. They’d actually pulled off the first triple play of 2017, back on May 2 against the Red Sox. But that one was at Fenway Park. The one on Thursday was at Camden Yards, and it was the first one from the Orioles in that ballpark in a long while.
— Rob Daniels (@oriolesfactoids) August 4, 2017
Two triple plays in two different ballparks, three months apart. And yet the Orioles lost both games. They lost to the Red Sox back in May, and on Thursday they lost to the Tigers 7-5. Triple plays don’t score runs, but hey, they’re still cool, right?
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