When in doubt, just keep running.
That was Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds' strategy on his dribbler of a triple on Thursday night, one that ended up carving out an odd piece of history. His three-bagger at Wrigley Field was hit with an exit velocity of 49.4 mph, making it the softest-hit triple recorded in the Statcast era (since 2015). It traveled a grand total of 79 feet in the air.
Normally when you think of triples, you picture a frozen rope splitting the gap, or a ball careening off the outfield wall. So how on earth did Reynolds make it to third base, leaving opposing manager David Ross looking dazed and confused in the dugout?
"I think we got caught a little bit watching the paint dry, as they would say in 'Hoosiers,'" Ross said.
Let's start with the shift. With the left-handed Reynolds at the plate, the Cubs had only one man on the left side of the infield, with the second baseman and shortstop on the other side of second base. Here's how the Cubs were aligned:
So when Reynolds got jammed and sent his squibber down the third-base line (it elicited a groaning "oh, please" from the Cubs booth), nobody had a shot at fielding it.
OK, so sounds like a cheapie double. Well, not quite. Third baseman Patrick Wisdom was first to the ball, and his instinct was to fire to second base. The only problem? Nobody was covering third. The throw came into second just as Reynolds was reaching the bag, and he just ... kept going. Here's how the Cubs were aligned as the ball was on its way to second:
Reynolds, who did tie for the MLB lead in triples last season, said he picked up that alignment mid-stride and knew exactly what he was going to do.
"I saw the third baseman out. Then I saw two guys at second. At third there was nobody," Reynolds said. "I knew they weren’t gonna catch me. Said screw it."
Chicago's infielders were as shocked as everyone watching at home and in the ballpark. Jonathan Villar tried to slap a tag down, but he was grasping at air as Reynolds breezed on by and reached third without a throw.
The only thing that could have possibly been cooler than what actually happened, according to Bucs manager Derek Shelton? If Reynolds had taken just one more base.
"[If] Willson [Contreras] gets [to third base], and then all of a sudden the plate's uncovered ... then we really would've seen something funny," Shelton said.