That's two! Bucs pull off a wild double play

D-backs double up at second base, causing confusion and a replay review in 9th

August 11th, 2022

PHOENIX -- The Pirates held on to defeat the D-backs, 6-4, on Wednesday night at Chase Field. But not before the Bucs turned one of the more bizarre double plays you’re likely to see in baseball this season -- or any season.

Arizona had loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning against Pittsburgh right-hander Wil Crowe, who was looking to preserve a three-run lead. Carson Kelly stepped to the plate looking to keep the D-backs’ comeback attempt going, or potentially even end the game with one swing.

Kelly hit a low liner that deflected off the dirt into the glove of Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. As Hayes turned to throw to second, a run was clearly going to score. But a 5-4-3 double play seemed inevitable, as the Bucs would gladly trade that run for a pair of outs.

Only second baseman Rodolfo Castro, who received Hayes’ throw at second, didn’t go on to throw to first. That would have been routine, something that happens all the time.

“We should have thrown the ball to first,” manager Derek Shelton said.

Instead, Castro caught the ball, stepped on second and threw to shortstop Kevin Newman, who had moved over to cover third when Hayes fielded the ball. At that point, Arizona’s Emmanuel Rivera was caught in a rundown between second and third, and he started to retreat to second. Newman went and tagged third, but that was no longer a force play.

As Rivera then neared back toward second, Sergio Alcántara was standing on that bag. Why? Who knows? Alcántara shouldn’t have been, though, because he was the runner forced out when Castro stepped on second earlier in the play. Alcántara should have been exiting the field.

If it sounds a bit confusing, Rivera and Newman appeared to feel the same way. Rivera slowed down when he got close to second and saw Alcántara, then made one crucial mistake -- he didn’t step on the bag. That base was really unoccupied as if Alcántara wasn’t actually there. And as Rivera stood just off the bag, Newman tagged him. He tagged Alcántara, too, to be safe.

But Newman seemed like he wasn’t sure why there were two runners in front of him or what exactly to do.

“I should have known better,” Newman said. “Should have been a rundown and tagged [Rivera]. Kind of just a funky play, and thankfully, when we went and tagged him, he didn't have his foot on the bag, so he's out.”

That’s correct. So when the D-backs challenged the play -- it was the ninth and they had nothing to lose anyway at that point -- the call was confirmed.

“It was a little bit of confusion there in a lot of different cases,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “I think [Rivera] was an inch away from doing it right and getting back to second base and being safe, but it didn’t happen.”

Rivera may have been even closer to the bag than that.

“Less than an inch off the bag is what it looked like to me,” Lovullo clarified.

Meanwhile, there were players all over the field who weren’t exactly sure what was happening. Especially the ones who didn’t have a great vantage point.

“That was different, for sure,” Pirates right fielder Ben Gamel said. “I had no idea what was going on. I couldn’t tell from my angle if [Hayes] caught it in the air or what. I was thinking, ‘Triple play!’ But it wasn’t even close.”

“It looked like it was going to be a mistake on our end, and then it turned out to be a mistake on their end, so it kind of just flipped the script there,” said Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller, who watched from the dugout after previously tossing 5 1/3 solid innings. “Just a crazy play.”

Maybe the confusion and the time it took to get everything straightened out quelled the D-backs’ momentum. When play resumed, they had a runner on first with two outs and were trailing, 6-4.

The Pirates had taken out Crowe and brought in left-hander Eric Stout by that point, so it had taken even a bit longer to get things started back up. Stout then needed only five pitches to get Jordan Luplow to fly out to right and earn his first MLB save.

It may not have looked routine or typical in nearly any way at the end, but Pittsburgh got the win. And that’s what mattered to Shelton.

“Overall, good team victory,” Shelton said. “Not a normal one, but a good team victory.”