ST. PETERSBURG -- When Carl Crawford grounded into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play off Angels closer Brian Fuentes Tuesday night, it was the first double play he'd grounded into all season, earning Crawford the distinction as the player having the most at-bats (239) before hitting into a double play this season.
Crawford hit the ball sharply to Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, who quickly got the throw to shortstop Erick Aybar, who made a crisp throw to first to complete the unlikely play.
"Yeah, I was surprised," said Crawford. "I was like, 'He must have gotten rid of it quick, because I was hustling out of the box.' My eyes lit up when I saw that they had gotten me. I just looked and I was like, 'Wow.' Aybar had to have to have turned that hard. I didn't know what happened."
Surprisingly, Crawford has grounded into 48 double plays in his career, which has spanned 984 Major League games. Rays manager Joe Maddon noted that Crawford doesn't strike out much, nor does he put the ball in the air, which leads to the possibility of hitting into more double plays. Nevertheless, Maddon said all the tumblers had to click into place for the Angels to make the play Tuesday night.
"Everything was just in their favor there," Maddon said. "Aybar made a nice relay and the game is over. He has to hit that ball in a perfect spot for that to happen, and he did."
Kendrick said he was positioned where he normally plays a left-handed hitter.
"And he happened to hit it right to me," Kendrick said. "It was firm enough. And we were playing a little more shallow depth, so it was the perfect situation there. And I think that's the only way we get that guy on a double play. Because he hit it right to me. If I would have had to move one step to my left or maybe to my right, then he probably would have beaten it out.
"We really just wanted to make sure we got that first out first. And Aybar did a heck of a job turning it. It was bang-bang, because he was flying."
Kendrick said it's always an accomplishment to double up Crawford or Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki.
"It's hard to double those two up," Kendrick said. "With [Crawford], as long a streak as he had of not hitting into a double play, that's impressive. C.C.'s a phenomenal guy. He was flying down the line, because after I threw to Aybar, I looked over and I'm like, 'He turned it.' It was bang-bang and I didn't know which way the umpire was going to call it."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.