Sunday, May 18, 2014
DENVER (AP) — Justin Morneau wondered out loud just how many teams have turned a triple play and hit a walkoff homer in the same game.
A better question yet may be this: How many times has the same player been involved in both?
Morneau hit a two-run homer in the 10th inning and helped the Colorado Rockies turn the third triple play in team history as they beat the San Diego Padres 8-6 on Sunday.
Oh, and for the record, since Morneau asked: This marked the fourth time since 1988, according to research by STATS, that a team had a triple play and a walkoff homer. Morneau also joined Prince Fielder (2009, with Milwaukee) as the only players to have been involved in both plays in the same game during that time frame.
Definitely a pretty good afternoon for Morneau, who's making himself right at home batting behind Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.
After Gonzalez singled earlier in the inning, Morneau lined a two-out, 3-2 fastball from Dale Thayer (2-2) to straightaway center. Morneau thought for sure he got enough of it, too, but then Cameron Maybin drifted back and back, like he might have a play on it.
"Scared me a little bit," Morneau said. "As good of athlete as he is, if he can't catch it, it's definitely gone."
Morneau sprinted around the bases to the applause from the crowd and flipped his helmet off after passing third. He was mobbed at home by his teammates.
"Great to see him get the big hit," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
Thayer insisted he made a quality pitch and that he didn't think it was leaving the park.
"But it doesn't surprise me it went out. He hit it hard," Thayer said.
Nick Masset (1-0) pitched a perfect 10th for his first major league win since 2011. LaTroy Hawkins blew his first save of the season in the ninth as he surrendered a tying two-run homer to Everth Cabrera.
Corey Dickerson had a two-run homer and Tulowitzki added a solo shot in the fifth to keep up his hot hitting at Coors Field, where he's batting .571 in 18 games.
Seth Smith and Rene Rivera hit solo homers for the Padres, who return home following a 3-3 road excursion.
"This was a game that was in the balance the whole way," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Both teams kept pecking away at each other the whole game, which is typical of this ballpark."
Juan Nicasio didn't have his best stuff, but was bailed out all afternoon by his defense, no more so than in the third. With runners on first and second, third baseman Nolan Arenado fielded a grounder by Carlos Quentin and stepped on the bag. He threw to second baseman D.J. LeMahieu, who relayed the ball on to first for the triple play.
Quentin was originally ruled safe at first, but the second base umpire called Smith for baserunner interference as he slid into second.
"That was different than anything I've ever seen," Morneau said.
The momentum from that play ignited the offense as the Rockies scored four runs in the bottom of the frame. Charlie Blackmon had a two-run single and Dickerson added a two-run homer.
Usually a reliever, Donn Roach made his first major league start as he filled in for Andrew Cashner, who went on the 15-day disabled list because of soreness in his pitching elbow.
Roach was on a pitch count and out of the game early, giving up four runs in three innings. He couldn't find his rhythm in the first as he walked leadoff batter Blackmon and then Dickerson.
It didn't matter, though, as both were thrown out trying to steal second — with a little assistance from replay.
Blackmon was originally called safe on his steal attempt, but Black requested an appeal and the umpires overturned the call.
After Dickerson walked, he tried to steal and, like Blackmon, was called safe when the tag was high. Black jogged out of the dugout to appeal, with the umpires again reversing the call.
According to the team, it's the first time a manager has successfully overturned two calls in the same inning.
NOTES: The last time San Diego hit into a triple play was April 15, 2012, at Los Angeles against the Dodgers. ... Black batted Roach eighth in the order and third baseman Alexi Amarista ninth, just to give the team more double-switch flexibility. ... The triple play in the third was Colorado's first since Tulowitzki turned an unassisted one on April 29, 2007, against Atlanta. ... OF Michael Cuddyer (strained left hamstring) said he will be activated Tuesday. The reigning NL batting champion was eligible to come off the DL on May 3.