Unraveling the Epic Tale of the Historic MLB Double Play
In an electrifying turn of events during Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Monday night, the Braves orchestrated a remarkable comeback against the Phillies, sealing their victory with an unprecedented double play, thanks to the quick thinking of outfielder Michael Harris II.
Trailing by four runs, the Braves managed to tie the game at 4-4. With a nail-biting 5-4 lead in the ninth inning and Bryce Harper on first base, Nick Castellanos stepped up to bat. Castellanos hit a deep fly ball to right-center field, a hit that seemed destined to be a home run in most ballparks, as indicated by its impressive .610 expected batting average according to StatCast.
Harris, displaying extraordinary anticipation, made a spectacular leap to catch the ball just before it could clear the fence. Despite slamming into the outfield wall, Harris swiftly recovered, tossing the ball back to the infield toward second base. Harper, misjudging the catch, had already passed second base when Harris made the grab.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson expressed his surprise, stating that Harper believed the ball was over his head and didn’t anticipate Harris’ incredible catch. Harris, unaware of Harper’s position, threw the ball towards second base.
The unexpected turn of events continued as second baseman Ozzie Albies missed catching Harris’ throw. Fortunately, third baseman Austin Riley was perfectly positioned between second base and the mound. Riley instinctively scooped up the ball and made an impeccable throw to first, completing an 8-5-3 double play. This historic play marked the first time in MLB postseason history that an 8-5-3 double play had occurred and the first time an outfielder was involved in a double play to end a postseason game.
After the game, Harris admitted he had no idea where Harper was positioned, explaining his decision to throw the ball towards second base. Harper, acknowledging Harris’ exceptional play, praised him while reflecting on his own daring baserunning that led to the double play, describing it as a risk that didn’t pay off.
The Braves’ comeback began when catcher Travis d’Arnaud hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning, narrowing the gap to 4-3 against Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler, who had an outstanding night with 10 strikeouts, one walk, and only three hits allowed.
Despite the odds, the Braves’ resilience paid off. They managed to rally the crowd and turn the game in their favor, ultimately securing the win with Riley’s go-ahead homer off Jeff Hoffman.
With the series now moving to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4, the excitement continues to build. Phillies will have Aaron Nola on the mound for Game 3, while Braves’ manager Brian Snitker plans to reveal their Game 3 starter on Tuesday, keeping fans on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the next thrilling matchup.