Three years ago today, I was sitting in the mezzanine of Progressive Field with my father and husband. Originally I had tickets to the Sunday, May 11 match-up between the Indians and the Blue Jays, but a rainout led to a doubleheader on the evening of Monday, May 12. Excited by the prospect of two games for the price of one, we turned our tickets in for the set of games on Monday night.
We watched the Indians, behind starter Fausto Carmona’s five hitter, win game one 3-0. With Cliff Lee set to pitch game two, we had high hopes that the Indians could complete the sweep. Lee got into trouble in the top of the fifth after Kevin Mench and Marco Scutaro both singled to start the inning. During the next play, Asdrubal Cabrera dove and made a back handed catch of Lyle Overbay’s line drive. Cabrera touched second base to get the force out of Mench, and then tagged Scutaro for the third out. It marked only the fourteenth unassisted triple play in Major League history, and the first time one was turned in Cleveland since Bill Wambsganss did it during the 1920 World Series. It was not enough to win the game, unfortunately. The score was deadlocked at zero in the tenth inning, before Toronto scored three and won 3-0.
To this day, I’m thankful that I didn’t choose the fifth inning to take a restroom break, or to go grab a drink. (That truly seems to be my kind of luck). What was entertaining about the experience was the response of my husband. While he enjoys baseball, he’s not a hard core fan like my father or I. After the triple play, he sat quietly in his seat as everyone cheered and just generally went insane. Finally, after about a half inning he said, “I still don’t understand why everyone is so excited about that double play.” I almost lost it; I understand not grasping the significance of an unassisted triple play, but I was kind of baffled by the fact that he completed missed that it registered three outs. It took another full inning to explain to him how the Indians were able to turn three, and why the play was so significant. It finally took me yelling, “This is rarer than a perfect game…A PERFECT GAME!” That seemed to do the trick.
After the unassisted triple play in 1920, it took 88 years before the city of Cleveland saw another such play. I guess it is okay if it took a couple of innings to comprehend the significance!