KANSAS CITY – Rocco Baldelli thinks it’s time to take Miguel Sanó on a trip to a local casino.
With runners in first and second places in the third inning, royals shortstop Nicky Lopez turned to restrain himself and punch him in the air – in the waiting glove of first baseman Sanó, who stormed home after hitting the had warned other infielder to look out for one triple play. With both runners progressing in the game, it was pretty easy for the Twins to complete the 15th triple play in club history and escape the traffic jam in the series finale on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.
Sanó has been in this situation several times and has now played in the last four triple plays in the club’s history, including the last to score a 2-1 win and split the series with four games with Kansas City. He claims to have called three of them before they happened.
“I’ll take him to Treasure Island [Resort and Casino]and we’re going to have a night and we’re going to have a great time, ”said Baldelli. “Maybe even an off-season trip or two, because why waste something like that, you know?”
In a game with little margin, that big game was probably the difference in outcome. It brought the Royals’ most promising scoring chance to a screeching halt and pitched a stingy attempt by the Minnesota Bullpen combined for five scoreless innings.
“As soon as we get into a situation like this, we try to prepare our mentality and try to make a tough game, a triple play, you see?” Sanó said. “It’s not easy. But the sooner we anticipate it and try to make it, the luckier we are. We have it a couple of times.”
Sanó said that he saw everything going on in his head. Realizing the situation was a mixed bag, he told pitcher Bailey Ober, who tossed four innings of a one-run ball, that he knew exactly what to do if he was pounded in the air.
When Sanó snapped the line drive out of thin air from Lopez ‘Bunt, he turned to shortstop Andrelton Simmons at second base to double Jarrod Dyson. Simmons ran several steps towards First before tossing the first base bag at second baseman Nick Gordon to triple Cam Gallagher.
It was the first 3-6-4 triple play ever played by the Twins and the first in Major League Baseball since the Mariners hit one on May 31, 1980. The last time the Royals entered a triple play on April 20th. 2012.
“I peeked out of my left eye and saw Miggy come in and I thought, ‘I won’t run into him,'” Ober said of the 6 foot 4,272 pound Sanó. “I left him some space and as soon as he got hold of it I turned my head and saw that these two guys were far away.”
Execution of this piece was important because Minnesota was wasting other opportunities to extend its lead. After Sanó’s RBI double on the left field line in third, Alex Kirilloff turned too far around third base and was replaced. In the fifth, the Twins loaded the bases with no outs and only scored after a go-ahead, two-out hit-by-pitch from Trevor Larnach.
The Twins’ previous triple play on August 7, 2019 against Atlanta was part of a three-week track in which they filmed two 5-4-3 triple plays, followed by another against the Yankees on July 22, 2019. In fact, 2019., it was their fourth triple play in the last five years – and Sanó was involved in all of them. He was the third baseman for two of them, starting with another against the Angels on June 1, 2017, and the first baseman for the other two.
Minnesota’s four triple plays during this period are twice as many as any other team during that period (the Reds and Orioles each have two).
But here’s the thing: Surely Baldelli realizes that Sanó (you might call him a would-be Sano-stradamus at this point) who eagerly predicts a triple play in any such scenario must have a low success rate, right?
“I don’t need to know [how many he’s missed on] now, ”said the skipper. “We’ll see how it turns out.”
He should probably sort this out before their casino trip.