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Crew turns sixth triple play in franchise history

Crew turns sixth triple play in franchise history

Crew turns sixth triple play in franchise history
MILWAUKEE -- Had the Brewers stopped at a double play in the second inning of Monday's game, it would have been highlight-worthy enough. Instead they turned three and made some history.

Four Brewers defenders combined on the sixth triple play in franchise history, a sensational play that bailed starter Randy Wolf out of a two-on, no-out jam and aided their 3-0 win over the Dodgers at Miller Park.

One up, three down
The Brewers have turned six triple plays in their history.
Date Outcome Players
8/15/2011 MIL 3, LAD 0 Josh Wilson (2B) to Yuniesky Betancourt (SS) to Prince Fielder (1B) to George Kottaras (C)
9/6/2009 MIL 2,
SF 1
Casey McGehee (3B) to Felipe Lopez (2B) to Prince Fielder (1B)
4/16/1999 CHC 9, MIL 4 Jeff Cirillo (3B) to Fernando Vina (2B) to Sean Berry (1B)
7/28/1997 MIL 9, TOR 4 Jeff Cirillo (3B) to Mark Loretta (2B) to Dave Nilsson (1B)
5/16/1979 CAL 4, MIL 3 Sal Bando (3B) to Paul Molitor (2B) to Cecil Cooper (1B)
4/28/1971 BOS 10, MIL 3 Rick Auerbach (SS) to Ted Kubiak (2B) to Mike Hegan (1B) to Ellie Rodriguez (C)
"In case you didn't know, it was my second one," bragged second baseman Josh Wilson, who started the play, just like he did in May 2009 for the D-backs against these same Dodgers. "So I'm kind of used to it."

He laughed, then recounted his place in the history books.

With Dodgers at first and second base and nobody out in a scoreless game, James Loney hit a grounder up the middle. Wilson ranged to his right, gobbled up the baseball and flipped it with his glove to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt for the first out. Betancourt threw to Prince Fielder at first for out No. 2, and Fielder, seeing Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp trying to sneak home, fired to catcher George Kottaras for the inning-ending tag.

It was the Brewers' first triple play since they turned one in their extra-innings win over the Giants on Sept. 6, 2009, a game better remembered for Fielder's "bomb" celebration at home plate after his walk-off homer.

But that was a more standard, third-to-second-to-first triple play. Monday's was scored second-to-shortstop-to-first-to-catcher, only the sixth such trifecta since 1876, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. The last such play, according to SABR, was in April 1973, when the Expos turned it against the Padres in Montreal.

The 4-6-3-2 triple play was also completed by the Red Sox in 1966, the New York Giants in 1922, the Brooklyn Suberbas in 1906 and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in 1890.

Add the Brewers to the list.

"You find weird ways to win when you're hot," said starter Randy Wolf, who went on to pitch eight shutout innings for the win.

Weird indeed, because triple plays involving more than three defensive players are extremely rare. There have been only six of them since 2000, including a very strange pitcher-to-shortstop-to catcher-to-third-to-pitcher-to-second play by the Rangers against the Mariners in 2002.

At first Wilson thought the Brewers would have trouble converting two outs, much less three.

As easy as 4-6-3-2
The Brewers turned the sixth triple play in history that went from the second baseman to the shortstop to the first baseman to the catcher.
Date Team Opponent Inning
8/15/2011 Milwaukee Los Angeles 2nd
6/13/1973 Montreal San Diego 7th
4/23/1966 Boston Cleveland 9th
9/12/1922 Chicago (AL) Cleveland 1st
7/16/1906 Brooklyn Cincinnati 7th
5/21/1890 Brooklyn Cincinnati 3rd
"I honestly wasn't thinking of flipping [the ball with] my glove," he said. "I thought I was going to have time to just transfer it and flip it with my hand. Once I caught it, I realized I was pretty far behind the bag and that was going to be tough. That put Yuni in an awkward spot. I just improvised."

Wilson actually made two terrific plays in the inning. Moments earlier, his "deke" convinced Kemp to slide into second base on Juan Rivera's single, preventing Kemp from advancing to third.

"He deked me a little bit, but I was sliding in for the stolen base and couldn't see where the ball was," Kemp said. "If I had peeked a little bit, I might be on third base right there, and we might have scored a run. We'll never know."

Wilson credited Betancourt for making a clean relay to Fielder for the second out. Fielder deserved praise for calling on the monotonous fielding practice that fills the mornings at Maryvale Baseball Park.

"In Spring Training, they always tell us, with a man on second, after a double play, you check the runner," Fielder said. "I thought I wasn't going to get [Kemp]. I thought he was way past third. I just threw it, and George made a good tag."

Said Kottaras: "I've never been a part of [a triple play]. To be at the tail end of one, it's cool."

Kemp briefly argued, but the call from plate umpire Mike Winters stood.

"It was close," Kemp said. "[We were] trying to be aggressive to get a run. It happens."

Thus Wolf was out of his jam, and the Brewers were on the way to their defense-fueled win.

The Brewers also turned four double plays, making them the first team to execute a triple play and four double plays in the same game since the Yankees at the St. Louis Browns on July 17, 1953.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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