Close your eyes and imagine a double play in baseball. Chances are very good you just imagined the classic 4-6-3 or 6-4-3 double play, where the second baseman fields a ground ball and throws to the shortstop — or vice versa in the latter case — to get the runner at second before throwing the ball over to first to get the batter.
Those sorts of double plays are so common that they form the overwhelming majority of the roughly 135 double plays turned per team — the median is .835 per game — in a season, so common, in fact, that when you consider the combined efforts of both teams, you’ve got a pretty good chance of seeing at least one of those 4-6-3 or 6-4-3 twin killings every game.
What the Cincinnati Reds did to get their double play Thursday against the St. Louis Cardinals is not something you see once a game — or once a season, for that matter.
Score it 9-5-6, right field to third base to shortstop.
It all starts off tame enough, as with Harrison Bader on first base, Cardinals pinch hitter Edmundo Sosa hit a seeing-eye single to right field that dropped between three Cincinnati fielders.
Yasiel Puig fielded the ball and fired a cannon shot to third base, an uncommon but not all that rare outfield assist from one of the best defensive arms in all of baseball in right field, and Bader was toast for the first out.
But then Sosa, hoping to take advantage of the opening he’d been given by the throw going to third, went for second to stretch his hit.
And the wild part? He got there well before the throw did. He was safe by a mile. But he overshot the mark with his slide, lost contact with the second-base bag, and got tagged out by Reds shortstop Jose Iglesias, who was quick to point out to the umpire that Bader had missed his mark at second.
It was quite a double play, but it was for naught as the Reds lost 7-4.
To the credit of the Cardinals, nothing erases a mistake quite like a grand slam, which Tommy Edman mashed with two out in the sixth inning to ultimately prove the difference in the game.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 19, 2019
Cincinnati came into the season hoping to make a playoff run, but the Reds have fallen well short of that goal and stand at 43-51, dead last in the NL Central and with the National League’s second-worst record overall.
They have allowed the fewest runs in the NL at 382, but their anemic bats have powered them to just 411 runs scored, second-worst on the senior circuit.
All the same, you have to admire the Cincinnati defense.
A double play like this doesn’t come along every day, and it broke up the monotony of all those 4-6-3 and 6-4-3 standards like a trip to a gourmet restaurant after eating nothing but fast food for a week. Refreshing, novel … and delicious.
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