Saturday, January 8, 2011

Asdrubal Cabrera's Triple Play

On May 12, 2008, the Cleveland Indians were 18-18 and only 1/2 game behind the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central.  The Indians had won 4 out of their last 5 games, including taking 2 out of 3 from the Yankees in New York.  The Indians, due to a rain out the previous day, were set to play a traditional doubleheader with  Fausto Carmona set to face Toronto's A.J. Burneet in teh firts game and Cliff Lee would pitch against Shawn Marcum in the nightcap.     

Fausto Carmona would throw a complete game shutout and the Indians defeat the Blue Jays 3-0.  The Indians would hold a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh when Asdrubal Cabrera would hit a 2-run home run to give the Indians their 3 run lead.  This would not be Asdrubal Cabrera's big highlight on the night.  The Blue Jays would gain a split on the day by winning the nightcap 3-0 in 10 innings.  Cliff Lee would throw 9 innings of shutout ball and Shawn Marcum would match him for 8 innings. B.J. Ryan would replace Marcum and pitch the 9th.  The Blue Jays would plate 3 runs off Rafael Bettancourt in their half of the 10th and Scott Downs would work the bottom of the 10th for the win.

The second game wouldn't be a total loss for the 16,045 fans that attended the game. Kevin Mench and Marco Scutaro would each single to start  the fifth inning and bring Lyle Overbay to the plate.  Overbay was ahead in the count 1-0 and the Blue Jays put on  a hit and run play. Overbay would line the ball to second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera who would make a diving catch for the first out, touched second base for the second out, and tagged the runner coming from first to complete the 14th unassisted triple play in MLB history.  After the game, Lyle Overbay gave a very humorous quote:

"I was trying to speed up the game. I get to go down in history. They can't take that away from me. It's not smart to hit a line drive on a hit-and-run. Only bad things can happen."

Bill Wambsganss WS Triple Play (1920)
  • Asdrubal Cabrera was the third Indians fielder to turn a triple play.  Neil Ball (1909) and Bill Wambsganss (1920) are the others.
  • Neil Ball, playing for the Cleveland Naps, was credited with the first ever unassisted triple play.
  •  Bill Wambsganss turned the only unassisted triple play in the World Series, in 1920 during a Game 5 win over Brooklyn.
  • The Indians have had three unassisted triple plays turned against them.  The last being in 1968 by Washington infielder Ron Hansen in 1968. 
  • Hansen's Triple Play in 1968 was the first Triple Play in 41 years.
  • Ron Hansen is now an advance scout for the Philedelphia Phillies and was in the crowd to see Cabrera's Triple Play.
  • Only two first baseman, George Burns of the Boston Red Sox and Johnny Neun  of the Detroit Tigers have turned unassisted triple playes. George Burns did it in 1923 and Johnny Neun did it in 1927.
  • There have been 15 unassisted triple plays (as of 2011) completed sins 1909.  By comparison their have been 18 perfect games and 13 times a player has hit four home runs in a game..


Asdrubal Cabrera would complete his unassisted triple play and without thinking, would flip the ball up to a fan in the stands, and according to Luis Rivera acting as a translator, Cabrera said "Oh No!".   Cabrera said that he was aware that the event was pretty special.  I could not find any link stating that the fan returned the ball although Scene magazine did report that a fan called their offices asking to get the ball authenticated, which the Indians refused.

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