"Oh man!" Howell exclaimed after the game. "It was the first one I've ever seen, so I'll take that. [My theory was just] throw a strike and move. I was trying to throw a strike. I was wrapped in that so bad, I just watched the ball fly around like a snowball fight. But it was fun, man. I needed that."
And it all happened in the blink of an eye. First, Howell struck Seattle's Raul Ibanez out swinging. Then catcher Navarro fired the ball to second base where speedy shortstop Zobrist tagged out Adrian Beltre on the run, who was trying to steal. Just as Seattle's Jose Lopez began to sneak home, Zobrist wheeled around and fired the ball to Navarro, who met Lopez two steps later to complete the triple play.
It also kept the Mariners to one run for the inning, though they'd had runners at the corners and no outs a few seconds prior.
"They executed it extremely well," Maddon said. "J.P. threw a strike ... and those two guys took care of it extremely nicely. In a practice situation, you couldn't do it any better than that."
It was the first triple play Tampa Bay has turned at Tropicana Field, and just the second in club history -- the Rays turned three on Sept. 13, 2002, at Toronto.
On the flip side, it was the ninth triple play Seattle has hit into, as well as the second this season. Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said it went a long way to take the wind out of his team's sails.
"You have to get rid of that absolute hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach. That takes a couple of innings," he said. "It was one of those things that everything had to be right for it to be pulled off and it did, and we gave away an inning."
Though Zobrist was the anchor during the elusive play, he was quick to give credit where credit was due.
"[Navarro's] throw down to second was perfect. Obviously, Beltre saw that, and he wasn't about to test that," Zobrist said. "That throw was perfect. It led me into him where I could take it and just continue running and make the tag. Out of [my] peripheral vision, I saw the guy taking off for home, so it just snap, snap, happened -- just like that."
Yup. Simple as that.