Pinball! Cardinals record awkward 3-1-3 putout against Phillies

Mark Townsend

If you're an advocate for defensive fundamentals, shield your eyes from the screen. You won't want to see how St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams and pitcher Trevor Rosenthal turned a routine groundball into an adventure worthy of a Yakety Sax accompaniment.

If you're a fan of baseball weirdness, though, click play repeatedly. You're in a for a real treat.

During the ninth inning of their 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night, Rosenthal got slugger Ryan Howard to roll over on a pitch and hit a soft tapper to Adams at first base. As routine a grounder as you'll see at the big league level, but Adams ended up botching the play and almost literally kicked it, It appears the ball actually struck his knee, but the carom was quite impressive.

The ball deflected to Rosenthal, who already broke toward first base in case he was needed to cover the bag. Nope. Adams needed a lot more help than that. Rosenthal ending up diving for the ball and attempting to make a bare-handed play to throw Howard out at first base, Instead, he fumbled it and kicked it himself, but as luck would have it, the ball rolled back to Adams who touched the base for the out.

That's 3-1-3 if you're scoring at home. Although some people believe it was more like 3-1-1-1-3, give or take a bobble. 

The play was equal parts ugly and hilarious. The only way they were actually going to get an out was with a runner like Ryan Howard moving down the line, so throw in lucky as well. Howard was never fast to begin with, and then he blew out his Achillies on the final swing of the 2011 NLDS, which didn't help matters. 

There's also a very good case to be made that Howard's path to the base was obstructed by Rosenthal. Apparently that was overlooked by the umpiring crew as they too attempted to digest what they'd witnessed.

Fortunately for the Phillies, the lack of a call didn't end up costing them in the end.

Fortunately for the rest of us, the lack of a call allowed the most clumsy defensive effort of the season to stand so that we could fully enjoy it. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!