Back-to-Back Inning-Ending Double Plays (with a catch)

Last night, I was watching Venezuela play Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series on the MLB Network. Aside from watching former-Cardinal pitcher Jason Simontacchi dazzle for a few innings, the most remarkable quirk of the night was that two straight half-innings ended on double-plays to the outfield (the first of which--a trapped fly ball by the right-fielder that caught the runners not knowing if the ball would be/had been caught and led to a force-out at second followed by a tag-out at home--was particularly bizarre). Curious, I decided to see if this has ever happened in MLB.

As always, it's Retrosheet to the rescue. Turns out, it's happened twice this decade. The most recent was in the bottom of the third/top of the fourth in a 2007 game between Minnesota and Tampa Bay when Ty Wigginton and Jeff Cirillo each hit into fly-outs with the runner caught tagging at first. Oddly enough, that was also the night when Carlos Pena hit the catwalk in Tropicana Field in two straight ABs, in case you were wondering about that "Single to 2B (Pop Fly)" line for Pena in the bottom of the 10th that led to the winning run.

Before that, it happened in the 9th inning of a 2001 game between Bostons of past and present (in Atlanta, naturally) when both teams spent the last of their days' worth of PAs on such double plays.

But what about a game with back-to-back inning-ending outfield double plays, with one of them seeing both outs come on the infield? None of this fly-out/outfield assist crap. Anyone can do that (even Jeff Cirillo!). You have to go all the way back to 1956 to find a possible match for that. On July 6, Detroit got out of the bottom of the first with a typical, boring sac-fly-slash-9-3-6-double-play, but in the top of the second, the real magic happened. Maybe. Officially, Bill Tuttle grounded into a 9-4-3 double play. Yes, grounded into. Now, I'm a bit skeptical that this double play ever made it to the outfield, just because, well, a 9-4-3 ground out? A straight 9-3 ground out is rare enough without the detour through second. Hell, even just a 9-4 fielder's choice is damn near unheard of. Maybe there was an error in recording the data. Maybe there was a weird 5-infielder shift on, though that would make no sense for the defense to try with a 2-run lead in the top of the second and a runner on first. Or, maybe Bill Tuttle and Jack Phillips both fell down. Maybe they had money on the scoreboard cap-dance game and could not afford to let their eyes wander to that less important game going on below. After all, the money in those days wasn't so great that such a matter would have been trivial. Maybe nothing unusual happened, Tuttle crossed first safely and easily, and the ump just blew the call by 3 or 4 seconds. Whatever it was, that's the one entry in Retrosheet's PBP files that fits, at least officially, all the criteria for what happened last night.


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.