SAN FRANCISCO -- As the baseball bounced in front of home plate, Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin ran off the mound and had every intention of fielding the chopper. That plan was aborted when third baseman Giovanny Urshela cut in front of him, collecting the ball for himself."It didn't surprise me,"
SAN FRANCISCO -- As the baseball bounced in front of home plate, Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin ran off the mound and had every intention of fielding the chopper. That plan was aborted when third baseman Giovanny Urshela cut in front of him, collecting the ball for himself.
"It didn't surprise me," Tomlin said after the Indians' 5-3 win over the Giants on Monday night. "I was ecstatic about it. I was really happy."
The play in question arrived in the fifth inning, when Urshela's defensive foresight and execution led to an incredible double play that stopped a would-be Giants rally. There were other elements that paved the way to victory -- Cleveland capitalizing on San Francisco's miscues in the field chief among them -- but it was Urshela's wizardy that was the talk of the clubhouse in the wake of the win.
With the game caught in a 3-3 deadlock at the time, Gorkys Hernandez reached with a single to right field off Tomlin. It was then, when Giants pitcher Matt Moore was walking to the batter's box with a sacrifice bunt the likely scenario, that Urshela told shortstop Francisco Lindor to be ready. If Moore bunted, Urshela planned on crashing and throwing to second base.
"As soon as that guy got to first," said Urshela, "I said to Lindor, 'Hey, be ready. I'm going there no matter what.' I was ready to get that ball."
Planning is one thing. Pulling it off is another.
Urshela was on the move during Tomlin's delivery and right on top of the batter by the time the baseball found the infield grass. Had the pitcher fielded the bunt, his only realistic play would have been throwing to first for one out. San Francisco would then have a runner in scoring position and the top of the order looming. That is why Tomlin was thrilled to see Urshela cut in front of him.
"He kind of came across in front of me," Tomlin said. "Once I saw that, I knew it was going to be an out no matter what."
Not just one out.
Urshela threw across his body, fell and slid on his knees as the ball arrived in Lindor's glove. The third baseman then watched all that planning pay off, as Lindor recorded the out at second and then fired to first, where second baseman Jose Ramirez covered in time to finish off the double play. Tomlin was yelling in celebration.
"I was screaming at the third-base line, 'Attaboy, Gio!'" Tomlin said.
Urshela laughed when asked if he has practiced that play in the past. The third baseman said it is pure reaction, but noted he also pulled it off once in the Minor Leagues while with Class A Lake County. Lindor was not a Minor League teammate of Urshela's back then, but they did play together prior to teaming in the Major League infield.
"I know what he's capable of doing," Lindor added. "I've seen it since he first signed. That was pretty impressive. He's one of the best I've seen at third base."
Asked about the play, Indians catcher Yan Gomes smiled.
"Gio comes up with some plays that you're going to get surprised every time," Gomes said. "That was a heck of a play. That was an OK bunt and he took over. It was kind of right to Tomlin and he took over and threw to second. It was definitely a big part of a game."
Indians manager Terry Francona called it a "game-changer."
"That was an incredible play," Francona said.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.