LOS ANGELES: History is nipping at the Cleveland Indians’ heels nearly every night.
Instant replay broke new ground Tuesday at Dodger Stadium when the Indians were awarded a triple play that included two manager challenges. Without Major League Baseball’s expanded replay system this season, the Indians would not have been awarded the third out.
The feat highlighted the Indians’ 10-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on an evening when Tribe right-hander Justin Masterson survived only three innings.
The Indians came into the game having been one-hit by the Seattle Mariners and Dodgers on consecutive nights. On Saturday, Indians’ right-hander Josh Tomlin threw a complete game one-hitter against the Mariners. But the fourth inning brought a play that rivaled anything that happened the previous three days.
With one run already home, Indians left-hander Kyle Crockett (2-0, 2.38) came on to face Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who had homered and was intentionally walked his previous two times up. Gonzalez laced a fly ball to left field that Michael Brantley caught on the run. Brantley fired the ball home with such force that he rolled and landed on his backside. His strike to catcher Yan Gomes arrived before speedster Dee Gordon and home plate umpire Adrian Johnson called a sliding Gordon out.
It was Brantley’s 10th outfield assist, tying Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes for the major league lead. But the play wasn’t over, even though Yasiel Puig thought it was.
Gomes hesitated, then threw to second baseman Jason Kipnis to try to nail Puig advancing from first. Kipnis’ reaction showed he believed the Indians had pulled it off, but second base umpire Paul Nauert called Puig safe.
“I thought I had him and I called for the challenge,” Kipnis said.
“After the play was over, Gomer followed the play through, put his head down for a second, but then caught himself real quick,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Puig is all over the field. If you put your head down … you saw in the first inning, he hit that ball that hit Cabby's glove. Brantley got to that ball as quick as he could, but it's still a double. That kid plays hard.”
Francona challenged the call on Puig and it was overturned. Then Dodgers manager Don Mattingly challenged the call at the plate, but it was upheld, giving the Indians a 7-2-4 triple play.
“It was a pretty special moment right there,” Masterson said.
“That was awesome,” Indians right fielder David Murphy said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever see one like that again. Michael Brantley has to be as underrated a thrower as there is in the game. Every time he gets a chance to throw, he’s right on the money. It was a great throw by Yan and a great job by deking him into going by not paying attention. Either way we got three outs on one play. It was fun to watch.”
Brantley saw it from the ground.
“Where was I going to go?” he said. “I was watching it all unfold.”
It marked the first triple play by the Indians since April 3, 2011 against the Chicago White Sox and the first turned against the Dodgers since Aug. 15, 2011 at Milwaukee.
Brantley wasn’t sure his throw got Gordon, who beat out an infield single to third base in the inning, running from home to first in 3.72 seconds.
“No, he’s fast,” Brantley said. “I was just trying to make the best throw I can, but obviously keep the ball down at the same time. You’ve got a guy on first, you don’t want him to let him stroll into second.”
Brantley said he was worried when Mattingly challenged.
“Obviously they had a lot of time to look at it in their dugout,” Brantley said. “So once you challenge, I didn’t know if I threw him out at home or not. I didn’t actually see the throw, I kind of did a tumble and that was the last of it.”
Crockett said he had never been part of a triple play and never seen one in person.
”That was awesome. It just shows the type of team effort that baseball takes,” Crockett said. “To have it all come together with the great from Brantley, the great throw from Yan. It was just incredible to be a part of.”