It’s All. About. Timing.
Scoring a run on a triple play is by far one of the rarest plays in baseball. The Yankees did it the second inning against the Reds on July 25, 2017.
With none out and the bases loaded, Todd Frazier, hero of the Tom’s River, NJ, Little League World Champions, a lifelong Yankee fan now playing third base for his beloved team, stepped to the plate for his first Yankee home at bat. On the mound for the Reds was Luis Castillo, a strong armed right-handed rookie pitcher in his first month as a big leaguer. Castillo cut loose a high 90’s fastball. Frazier laced a one hopper to the shortstop, Jose Peraza stepped on second base to start a 6-U-3 double play. The runner at second base, Didi Gregorius, read the batted ball as a possible line drive out and retreated to second base. Then, realizing the ball bounced, he attempted to advance to third as the double play was being turned. Eventually caught in a rundown, Gregorius ran out of the baseline for the third out. Triple play. Meanwhile, Matt Holliday, the runner at third base scored before the final out (Gregorius). His run counted. History was made.
According to STATS, LLC., this is the first time this play has happened in MLB since May 21, 2006, when the Mariners turned one on the Twins. Some Twitter posts claim it has occurred only 7 times in baseball history, but my friends inside the statistical world of baseball claim that info can’t be gotten. So, let’s just agree that it is rare.
Watch the Historic Triple Play
Classic Time Play.
Ted Barrett and Chris Welsh discuss the “Time Play” in this video
Why the Run Counted
The Reds/Yankees triple play allowed a run to score because of the timing of the runner touching the plate before (and how) the final out was recorded. The term “Time Play” is not listed in the Official Baseball Rules. Rule 5.08 (a) comes closest. It reads, “A run is not scored if the runner advances to home base during a play in which the third out is made (1) by the batter-runner before he reaches first base; (2) by any runner being forced out; or (3) by a preceding runner who is declared out because he failed to touch one of the bases.
The “Time Play” came into view in two other Major League games in the same week as the rare Reds triple play. Rich Marazzi adds details and interpretation. Learn why runners must always hustle through the plate. In one case, lack of hustle cost the Astros a run. In the other play, heads up base running by Red Sox, Jackie Bradley, tied the score.
by Rich Marazzi
If the third out occurs at about the same time a runner is crossing the plate and the out is not the result of a force or the batter-runner making the third out before reaching first base, it’s a race against “Time.” What occurs first, the runner touching home plate or the tag of a following runner that is the third out which is not a force out.
Below are two contrasting “Time Plays” that occurred on July 18 involving a runner heading to the plate in a “Time Play” situation. One team handled it well which proved to be a critical as it led to a win while the other team failed to do so, costing them a run. Remember, no run can score when an inning ends in a force out or the batter-runner makes the third out before reaching first base. In the two plays below, we had a “Time Play” situation because in both cases the inning did not end in a force, nor did the batter make the third out before reaching first base.
Play No. 1: Altuve Jogs to the Plate
The Astros hosted the Mariners when they were a victim of a “Time Play” that was reviewed by the M’s. Here is what happened:
In the bottom of the third the Astros had Jose Altuve on third and Josh Reddick on second with one out when Yuli Gurriel flied to Jarrod Dyson in center for the second out. Both runners tagged-up and attempted to advance. It appeared that the Astros had scored a run with Altuve crossing the plate and Reddick being called safe at third. But M’s manager, Scott Servais, challenged the tag play at third base claiming that Reddick came off the base and was out because Kyle Seager held the tag.
The review team in NYC agreed with Servais. And because Reddick was tagged out before Altuve touched the plate, the run was wiped off the board.
If you watch the replay, you will notice that Altuve begins his approach from third base with a slow jog. In the second half of his run to the plate, you can see in slow motion that he is running harder. If he sprinted from the moment he tagged-up to the time he touched the plate, he would have added a run for the Astros.
Play 2: Bradley Runs Through the Plate
Conversely, note how Jackie Bradley runs through the plate on the front end of a “Time Play” in Boston where the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays, 5-4 in 15 innings.
The Red Sox had Bradley on second and Xander Bogaerts on first base with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning trailing, 4-3, when Mookie Betts singled to right field scoring Bradley, who reached home plate just before Bogaerts was thrown out at third by Jays’ right fielder Jose Bautista.
In contrast to Altuve’s run from third to home, notice how Bradley after taking a quick peek behind him, raced hard to the plate and ran through the plate like he was running to first base to beat out and infield hit. Instead of a game-ending out at third base, this tied the score and Boston won the game in the 15th inning on walk-off home run by Hanley Ramirez.
Also, credit Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield, who emphatically directed Bradley to keep running hard.
View this play:
Obstacles to Successful Execution of “Time Plays”
There are three reasons why teams often lose a run in a “Time Play” situation:
- The runner heading to the plate doesn’t run hard the entire distance (Altuve).
- The runner heading to the plate, even if running hard, instinctively slows down when he knows there is no play being made on him.
- The on-deck batter, or a runner who has just scored, raises his arms signals the runner to slow down.
I like to use the term “run through the plate” like Bradley did when directing runners to run hard in a “Time Play” situation. Remember, many runners will not understand the “Time Play” rule. It’s important for the third base coach to direct the runner advancing home to run “through the plate” or whatever language you want to use.
If there is a runner advancing to third base that is going to be an easy out, it would be wise, if possible, for the third base coach to have that runner retreat or back pedal toward second base and get into a rundown. This will give the runner, who is advancing home, more “time” to cross the plate.
In Play No. 1 above, the batter (Gurriel) made the second out of the inning. In Play No. 2, the inning did not end in a force out because Bogaerts was only forced to third base. Therefore, in both plays the inning ended in a “Time Play.”