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Historic feat: White Sox get triple play, slam

@alysonfooter
May 23, 2019

HOUSTON -- The White Sox had already turned double plays in the first two innings of Wednesday night's game against the Astros when they pulled off one of the most rare and exciting plays in baseball to end the third -- a triple play. The 5-4-3 triple dip in the

HOUSTON -- The White Sox had already turned double plays in the first two innings of Wednesday night's game against the Astros when they pulled off one of the most rare and exciting plays in baseball to end the third -- a triple play.

The 5-4-3 triple dip in the third inning was made possible by some slick fielding and a little bit of luck, in the form of a perfectly placed ground ball by Houston's No. 9 hitter, Jake Marisnick, and a perfectly placed third baseman in Yoán Moncada, who was positioned inches from the bag when the ball was hit.

“I moved closer to the base right before that pitch because I knew he's a pull hitter,” Moncada said, following the Sox 9-4 win. “And he hit the ball hard. When he hit the ball, I just reacted.”

To start the triple play, Moncada snagged the ball and touched third base for a split-second before firing to Yolmer Sánchez, who skillfully retrieved the low throw and completed a perfect relay to first baseman Jose Abreu.

“There's a lot of things that have to go well for that to occur,” manager Rick Renteria said. “You have to be well within range of that bag and be able to release it. They got it out of their gloves, getting it in and out quickly. Marisnick's fleet of foot. Everything had to be perfect.”

Tony Kemp led off the inning with a double to the corner in right. Ivan Nova then hit Robinson Chirinos with a pitch before facing Marisnick, who, despite possessing above-average speed, was unable to beat Sanchez's throw.

“I knew he's a fast runner,” Moncada said of Marisnick. “That was one of the reasons why I tried to make the play as fast as I could.”

The triple play was the White Sox first since July 8, 2016, when they turned one during an 11-8 loss to the Braves in Chicago. They also turned one against the Astros that year, on May 18.

There was more historical significance to this game, beyond the triple play. In the six-run White Sox sixth inning, Charlie Tilson hit a grand slam for his first big league home run. The White Sox are now only the fourth team in the last 40 years to have hit a grand slam and turned a triple play in the same game. The others: the Tigers in 2017; the Mets in 2002; and the Blue Jays in 1979.

There was certainly no lack of drama in a game that ended the White Sox nine-game losing streak against Houston, dating back to September 2017.

“It was a big win for us,” Tilson said. “It's an exciting night all around.”

More history

A triple play and grand slam in the same game may be a rarity, but for White Sox catcher James McCann, Wednesday’s game was a little déjà vu-ish.

McCann was in the Tigers’ lineup in 2017 when that team accomplished the same feat.

“You don't see a lot of triple plays, you don't see a lot of grand slams,” he said. “To see it in one game is pretty incredible.”

McCann seems to have a knack for being present during odd, rare baseball moments. His first career home run was an inside-the-parker, and he was also on the losing end of a triple play in a game against the Orioles a while back.

“Manny Machado was playing third, I was a step out of the box and I watched him field, step on third all in one motion, throw to second,” McCann recalled. “I'm running down to first knowing what was about to happen.”

So that’s three triple plays -- one that went against McCann, and two that went in his favor.

In other words, he’s a walking, breathing trivia question.

“I’ll be ready on Jeopardy,” he joked.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.