BOSTON -- As soon as the ground ball left the bat of Yadier Molina and bounded toward third base in the top of the fourth, there was anticipatory excitement in the Red Sox's dugout.Moments later, the deafening roar from the Fenway Park crowd was in salute of the Red Sox
BOSTON -- As soon as the ground ball left the bat of Yadier Molina and bounded toward third base in the top of the fourth, there was anticipatory excitement in the Red Sox's dugout.
Moments later, the deafening roar from the Fenway Park crowd was in salute of the Red Sox turning their first triple play in five years in an eventual 10-4 victory over the Cardinals.
It was an around-the-horn special, and the Red Sox couldn't have drawn it up any better, particularly with the slow-footed Molina running.
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"I think the coolest thing was as soon as the ball was contacted, you could hear guys in the middle of the dugout, the veteran guys, they were all in unison, saying, 'Triple play'" said Red Sox infield instructor Brian Butterfield. "That's how engaged our guys are on the bench."
Fortunately, the infielders who made the play happen were every bit as engaged.
With runners on first and second, 20-year-old third baseman Rafael Devers fielded the ball and took one step to tag third. He then fired to second baseman Eduardo Nunez, who swiftly threw to first baseman Mitch Moreland to retire Molina by a couple of steps.
"First thing that went through my mind was just to touch third base and throw as hard as I possibly could to second base to hopefully get a double play and maybe a triple play," said Devers.
"As soon as the ball was hit, I knew it was going to be taking Raf to the bag," said Moreland. "For him to have the presence of mind to take it and then throw to second, that's what started it. Everyone was pretty fired up about it. It just worked out perfectly."
While Devers has made plenty of headlines for his bat since arriving in the Major Leagues three weeks ago, his fielding has exceeded expectations.
"First of all, the presence of mind of Raffy, knowing the speed of the runner," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "You could understand if a less-experienced guy would have stepped on the bag and thrown across the diamond to first, but to go into Nuney at second with a potential to turn it, the dugout was calling for it as soon as it was off the bat with the type of ground ball it was. But that was obviously an exciting play."
"That's not an easy throw when you're that far," said Butterfield. "You stick your foot on the base and then you throw it, that's not an easy throw for a third baseman. He threw it right on the button, firm. That was fun to watch."
For the Cardinals, who were making their first visit to Boston since losing the clinching Game 6 of the 2013 World Series, it added to their recent history of frustration at Fenway Park.
"We had a couple of hits [leading up to the triple play], and plays like that happen," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.
As far as triple plays go, this one was of the room-service variety. Nobody enjoyed it more than starting pitcher Rick Porcello, who was beaming as he went back to the dugout. It was the first time Porcello had a triple play turned for him while he was pitching.
"Well, that was a big play," Porcello said. "I mean, Molina's a good hitter and they've been swinging the bats really well. They're a big momentum team. To get that result was huge. I mean, it was kind of a momentum shift for myself and for our team, so it was, yeah, [I] let it out."
It was the first triple play the Red Sox have turned since Aug. 16, 2011, against the Rays when Jed Lowrie, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez combined on a 5-4-3 play.
The last time the Cardinals hit into a triple play was May 9, 2015, and that also was hit by Molina, though that one was a lineout.
"I've never seen one in person," said Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. "He was obviously ready for it. We executed a play perfectly. It was exciting and a big play for the game."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.