Future Hall of Famer Rod Carew Helped Twins Take Advantage of Their First Two-Man Triple Play
Considering the sport has been around for 150 years, it is hard to witness a first ever in baseball. Yet in one of the biggest games of the night, when two division rivals were pitted against one another, Major League Baseball recorded its first ever 8-5 double play.
The White Sox and the first place Twins were tied 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth, but Chicago looked in prime position to go ahead. Yoan Moncada was at first and Adam Engel at second with no outs, when AJ Pollock lofted a deep fly ball that was carrying over Byron Buxton's head in center field.
Both runners assumed the ball was uncatchable, even though the Twins center fielder is one of the most gifted athletes in the game, so Engel and Moncada took off. Buxton somehow managed to nab the ball, quickly throwing it to third baseman Gio Urshela.
His momentum carrying him toward second base, Urshela tagged Moncada on his way from first. By then stepping on the bag, Urshela forced Engel for the third out of the play.
While it was the first ever 8-5 triple play, the feat was actually the second Minnesota triple play involving just two players. The first was back on Sunday, July 25, 1976 against none other than the White Sox in Chicago.
In the bottom of the first, Ralph Garr singled and moved to second on a wild pitch by Minnesota starter Steve Luebber. Second baseman Jorge Orta singled to bring in Garr, and Jim Spencer followed with a single.
With Orta at second and Spencer at first, Bill Stein popped up a bunt attempt. Catcher Butch Wynegar caught the pop and fired to shortstop Craig Kusick, who tagged Spencer before stepping on second to get the force on Orta.
If not for the goofs that led to that triple play, the White Sox could have added to their two-nothing lead. Two innings later, when Jerry Hairston led off with a single, it seemed like Chicago would indeed add to their lead.
Unfortunately, Hairston was picked off first on the very next pitch, except that Luebbers threw wildly during the pickle. Hairston on the the errant throw was able to advance all the way to third, scoring a few pitches later on Orta's triple.
Stein atoned for his botched bunt in the first by hitting a double, which easily brought Orta home with Chicago's fifth run. In spite of that unlikely triple play, the White Sox had managed to build a five-nothing lead heading into the fourth.
Then Chicago starter Terry Forster, a left hander who would become a dominant closer for the Atlanta Braves and a bit of a celebrity with David Letterman, ran into some trouble. Singles by Larry Hisle and Dan Ford around a walk to Craig Kusick loaded the bases, which were soon cleared on a double by Glenn Borgmann.
Two innings later, Forster again loaded the bases before being lifted by manager Paul Richards. Reliever Francisco Barrios had to face pinch hitter Rod Carew, who cleared the bases with a triple to put Minnesota up 6-5.
Roy Smalley and Mike Cubbage added RBI singles a few innings later, the scoring culminating when Smalley blasted a home run in the top of the ninth. Minnesota won the game 13-8, a slugfest that took exactly three hours to play.
But there was more baseball to be played that day, for the two teams then had to play the second half of a scheduled double header. This one featured only eleven runs in a 7-4 for the White Sox who this time, nor any other time for the next 46 years, did not run into a two-man triple play.