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Joe Mauer drove in three runs ... on a ground-ball single

Joe Mauer drove in three runs on a ground-ball single

OK, here's a riddle for you: The bases are loaded and Joe Mauer's at the plate. Mauer hits a single and three runs score. No, Mauer did not hurt himself rounding first base. And no, there were zero errors on the play. How does such a thing happen? 

Well ...


Though a large part of the Pirates success in the past few years has been their embrace of the defensive shift, leading the National League last season, this time it came back to bite them. After shortstop Jung Ho Kang was pulled behind the second-base bag, Mauer was free to hit into the gaping chasm on the left side of the infield. With Starling Marte slow to retrieve the ball from the baseball equivalent of a black hole, three Twins were able to race around the bases on a ball hit roughly 200 feet. 

With Minnesota winning by three runs, you could conceivably argue that Mauer's expertly placed grounder was the difference. I mean, you'd be wrong, but you could do it.  

Of course, this isn't the first time that it's happened. According to Baseball-Reference's Play Index, the last time a player drove in three runs with a ground-ball single was on July 19, 2003, when Jason Giambi drove in three against then-Indians pitcher CC Sabathia. Oddly enough, the Yankees won that game by three, too. 

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