Even though there have now been three triple plays turned in major league baseball this season, the one the Red Sox turned tonight was the first since July 8, 1994.
It came in the form of 5-4-3.
With runners on first and second and nobody out in the top of the fourth, Sean Rodriguez of the Rays hit a hard grounder right to third baseman Jed Lowrie. Lowrie took a step to his right to tag the bag for the force on B.J. Upton and then threw to Dustin Pedroia for the tough out at second base where Casey Kotchman was baring down on him.
Pedroia hung in tough and completed the play with a throw to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to nip Rodriguez by a step.
The crowd seeme to know right away what had just happened. Lowrie had a grin from ear-to-ear while Pedroia was his usual animated self.
The Sox have turned 11 triple plays since 1954. What was unusual is that the Red sox are last in the American league in turning double plays – 90 – and next to last in the majors.
The last triple play came against Seattle and it was a rare unassisted triple play by shortstop John Valentin.
For Lowrie, it was a redemption of sorts.
His throwing error in the second inning had led to one of two unearned runs that were tagged to Erik Bedard. With runners at second and third and one out, Lowrie fielded Rodriguez’ ground ball and he went to the plate where he had lead runner Ben Zobrist dead as a door nail.
Unfortunately, Lowrie seemed to squeeze the throw and it one-hopped toward Jason Varitek who couldn’t hold on to the ball. Lowrie had also been involved in a big play Sunday when he didn’t get the benefit of a phantom call at second base. He pulled off the bag too soon to avoid a hit and the umpire called him on it. Such was not the case with Pedroia, who was willing to get his mouth smashed in an effort to turn the play.
Pedroia had ended the first game game of the double-header with an incredible extension of his little body to rob B.J. Upton of a basehit. The liner was actually behind Pedroia, who leaped as a last gap and came down with the ball as he landed hard to the ground.
He did it again in the seventh inning of Game 2 when he robbed Desmond Jennings, by grabbing a hard-hit liner that was heading to centerfield for a hit if not for Pedroia’s incredible quickness to make the diving catch.
That fourth inning had started with a single to center field by Upton and a single to left field by Kotchman.
Bedard, who deserved a better outcome in the second inning due to Lowrie’ miscue, was saved more harm by the triple-killing.