In a scenario Abner Doubleday could hardly have envisioned, it took two instant replay reviews at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday to confirm a wild triple play pulled off by the Cleveland Indians in their 10-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Instant replay, this year’s new addition to major league baseball, had just been utilized the night before to confirm the Indians’ lone hit off of Dodgers starter Dan Haren, an infield single by Michael Bourn, depriving him of a no-hitter. But Tuesday night, instant replay reached a new level of involvement in the game.
The scene was set: the Indians were in deep trouble, as the Dodgers’ speedy Dee Gordon was ensconced on third base and phenom Yasiel Puig at first with no one out and Adrian Gonzales at the plate facing rookie lefty Kyle Crockett in the fourth inning, the Indians leading 5-3. Gonzales went inside-out on a pitch from Crockett, slicing the ball toward left field. Michael Brantley caught the ball on the dead run, and rifled the ball toward Indians catcher Yan Gomes at the plate.
The throw was perfect; one bounce and a beeline for Gomes, who tagged Gordon, nailing him by an eyelash. Gomes turned to the home plate umpire to confirm the out call, then suddenly realized that Puig had taken off for second base when Gomes had turned to the umpire. Gomes gunned a throw to second baseman Jason Kipnis, and again, it was a bang-bang play, but Puig was called safe by second base umpire Paul Nauert. Kipnis immediately called for a challenge to the call. “I thought I had him,” Kipnis said. “So I called for the challenge.”
Indians manager Terry Francona walked out to discuss the play with Nauert, then turned back to the dugout, where bench coach Brad Mills signaled him to make the challenge official. The umpires called time, waiting for the ruling from the Replay Operations Center in New York.
Nauert’s call was overturned, making the triple play official. Or was it? Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly approached the umpires to challenge the call at home plate, prompting an unprecedented second replay review of the same play. Brantley, waiting in left field, was concerned. He said later, “I was worried. Obviously, they had a lot of time to look at it in their dugout. So once you challenge, I didn’t know if I threw him out at home or not. I didn’t actually see the throw. I kind of did a tumble and that was the last of it.”
The call at home plate was upheld, and the triple play was now completely official.
Indians right fielder David Murphy proclaimed, “That was awesome. I don’t know if we’ll ever see one like that again.” Crockett, needless to say, was delighted, saying, “It couldn’t have gone any better. That was awesome. It just shows the type of team effort that baseball takes. To have it all come together with the great from Brantley, the great throw from Yan. It was just incredible to be a part of.”
Francona noted the aggressiveness of Puig, who had sprinted from home plate to second base for a double in the first inning when shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera dove but could only deflect the ball into shallow left field. Francona said admiringly, “Puig is all over the field. That kid plays hard.”
The Indians’ triple play was their first since April 3, 2011, against the White Sox. The triple play at Dodger Stadium was the first since the Dodgers turned one against the San Diego Padres on April 15, 2012. The last time a team completed a triple play against the Dodgers was Aug. 15, 2011, when the Milwaukee Brewers successfully pulled it off.
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