From a young age baseball players are told to freeze on line drives with less than two outs in an inning. It's perhaps the most basic of all baserunning rules. Elementary enough that it shouldn't have to be formally written down or stressed repeatedly to be remembered, yet the Toronto Blue Jays seemed to forget it existed during their 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.
They're quite lucky to have escaped with that victory, or what happened in the sixth inning would be an even larger topic of discussion. After back-to-back singles by Anthony Gose and Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera would reach on a fielding error by third baseman Matt Carpenter to load the bases. A prime scoring opportunity with nobody out and slugger Jose Bautista coming to bat.
Bautista did what you'd expect, too, mashing a line drive toward the middle of the diamond that many times would have scooted into center field for a clean hit. Unfortunately, he ran into some bad luck, which was certainly aided by the Cardinals defensive alignment. Second baseman Daniel Descalso was right there to snag the liner, but Toronto's runners kept moving anyway, allowing the Cardinals to flip the ball around the infield for a relatively easy 4-6-3 triple play.
It's a strange play to watch from Toronto's perspective. Obviously, runners are told to freeze in those situations, but that doesn't always have to be the case for more advanced baserunners such as Gose, Reyes and Cabrera. If you take a look at the defense before every pitch, you should have a pretty good idea of where defenders are playing and which hits put you in most danger of being doubled off.
Apparently, the Jays trio didn't do that, because Descalso caught the ball right where he was shaded to start the play. He was right where he was supposed to be, and Toronto was caught off guard completely. It's a real head scratcher. The Jays didn't offer much comment on the play or the overall thought process after the game, which obviously would have been different had it proven more costly. As it stands, it's just a blip on the radar during their six-game winning streak.
Historically speaking, it's the Cardinals first triple play since May 5, 2005, against the San Diego Padres. It's the seventh time the Blue Jays have hit into a triple play, but none were probably so mind-numbing as the one on Friday night.
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