During last night’s Mariners game I heard Rick Rizzs talk about a two triple play game Gary Gaetti and the Minnesota Twins had many years ago. I was curious enough to look up the game, which happened in 1990, on July 18, at Fenway. The next day, the Associated Press said the Twins had become
the first team in major-league history to turn two triple plays in the same game. Third-to-second-to-first, naturally.
In fact, the Twins had two more triple plays than runs – they lost to the Boston Red Sox 1-0.
“As a coach, when you’re in that situation, you say ‘Oh, run. Oh, no,’ ” said Rac Slider, Boston’s third-base coach, who had the best seat in the house for both. “That’s all you can do.”
Former Twin Tom Brunansky hit into the first triple with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Jody Reed repeated the feat with runners at first and second in the eighth. Both bat right-handed.
Both hard grounders went to Gary Gaetti at third. Both times, he stepped on the bag for the forcer and threw to second baseman Al Newman. Both times Newman threw to Kent Hrbek to get the batters by at least a full stride.
“They fell right into our laps,” Minnesota manager Tom Kelly said.
Gaetti said: “I may think about it later and think it was nice I was there (as) a part of it. But I would much rather have had a win.”
Both victims knew what was happening.
Reed recalled later, “I knew it. I knew it. I said, ‘Here, we go. ‘ I knew it, particularly because I didn’t get out of the box very well.”
“It’s a pretty strange feat,” Brunansky said. “When I looked over . . . I saw a lot of people heading over to the dugout.”
Gaetti wasn’t overly surprised, particularly with Brunansky up, that it happened again. He alerted Newman to be ready and even told Wade Boggs, who was on third, to watch for the triple play. “He just looked at me and spit,” Gaetti said. “I think he rolled his eyes, too.”
Reed had doubled Boggs to third and Carlos Quintana had walked.
“I play Brunansky to pull,” Gaetti said. “I just thought that the situation was set up for that – the sinker-ball pitcher (Scott Erickson) and Bruno’s up there.
“I thought about how the play could develop. I didn’t have to move more than arm’s length for the ball. Then I said, ‘I’ve got to try this.’ “
Reed’s grounder, following a double by Naehring and walk to Boggs, was even easier. It came to Gaetti right at the bag.
“Reed hits the ball down there a lot,” Gaetti said. “It’s the same perfect situation. And his ball was hit harder than Bruno’s.”
It was up to Newman to make the final throw into the record books.
“I was really nervous on the second one because I had plenty of time, and I kind of aimed the ball over there,” he said. “That’s when you get in trouble.”
The triple plays overshadowed a big night for Red Sox rookie shortstop Tim Naehring, who drove in the only run in the fifth inning with his first major-league hit.