Nationals turn first-of-its-kind triple play in win against Giants

The 707th triple play in baseball history marked a series of firsts that are almost impossible to believe.

The Washington Nationals were responsible for turning this historic triple play during Friday’s 4-1 win against the Giants. With the game on the line in the eighth inning, they executed a 3-5 triple play to escape the jam and leave the scuffling Giants absolutely stunned.

What makes it historic though? Well, perhaps the most improbable reason it marked the first time this specific combination of fielders contributed to a triple play.

The SABR Triple Play Datebase is the real deal and is worth checking out. Every triple play is there, with every situation and every combination record.

Anthony Rendon (left) and Ryan Zimmerman (right) combined for a historic triple play. (AP)
Anthony Rendon (left) and Ryan Zimmerman (right) combined for a historic triple play. (AP)

In this instance the 3-5 represented first baseman Ryan Zimmerman catching a line drive for the first out, stepping on first base for the second out, and then tossing to third baseman Anthony Rendon for the third out. Apparently, former National Denard Span thought the baseball was getting through Zimmerman, because he was the all way to home plate.

Some are calling it a 3-3-5 triple play, but Zimmerman’s part was unassisted, so it’s technically just 3-5.

Here’s another first: Until Friday, the Washington Nationals had never turned a triple play. If you wish to count the Expos days though, that’s fine. The last triple play they turned was on Sept. 3, 2002.

Incredibly, this was also a first for Nationals manager Dusty Baker. Never in his 49 years of playing, coaching or managing professional baseball had he witnessed a triple play in person, though according to MASN’s Dan Kolko that was mostly a matter of bad timing.

There was no way Dusty was going to miss Friday’s. In fact, he’d just made two important changes, calling on left-handed reliever Sammy Solis to face left-handed hitting Brandon Crawford. He also just inserted Zimmerman as a defensive replacement.

Dusty Baker didn’t only see it, he had a part in orchestrating it too, even if a play like that is almost defined by luck.

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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!