Rays limit sixth-inning damage with triple play
Longoria suggests possibility of feat during mound visit
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays escaped a potential big sixth inning when they turned a triple play in Tuesday night's 5-3 win over the Yankees.
New York had already scored a run in the frame on Nick Swisher's RBI double to take a 3-2 lead. Jeremy Hellickson then intentionally walked Jorge Posada to load the bases and bring Russell Martin to the plate.
A mound visit by Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey ensued, and near the end of that meeting, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria looked toward second baseman Ben Zobrist and spoke. Zobrist recalled Longoria's words.
"He said, 'If it comes to me and I'm close enough to the bag, I'm going to step on it, and let's turn a triple play,'" Zobrist said. "And that's exactly what happened. It was crazy. It was a great call."
Martin swung at the first pitch and grounded to Longoria, who promptly stepped on third base, then snapped off a quick throw to Zobrist, who tagged second base and made the relay to Sean Rodriguez at first base to complete the triple play, with Martin sliding headfirst in an attempt to beat the throw.
"I just hit it in the wrong spot," Martin said. "It was a pitch I was looking for, and I kind of had an idea he was going to start me with the changeup. It was really a good pitch to hit, it was changeup-middle, and I got out in front and rolled it over. I really just hit it in the wrong spot. He made a nice play, though."
Rays manager Joe Maddon described the scene in the dugout following the triple play.
"It was pretty animated when everybody came in," Maddon said. "Any possible handshake that they had, they took out of their back pocket and utilized it at that moment. It was very alive, and those are the kinds of things you look for regarding where you're going right now with the whole thing. So when you're able to pull off a triple play under those circumstances in that moment, it's a good thing."
Tampa Bay last turned a triple play on Sept. 2, 2006, against Seattle, and the club has now recorded three triple plays in its history.
New York has hit into 25 triple plays in franchise history, with the last one coming on May 29, 2000, against Oakland.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.