Oliver Perez gave up a bunt single by Denard Span and a bloop single by Angel Pagan and Blake Treinen issued a walk to Buster Posey to load the bases with no one out in the bottom of the eighth inning of a late July game in San Francisco’s AT&T Park.
Washington led 4-1 at that point. Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker turned to left-handed reliever Sammy Solis, with Brandon Crawford due up. Baker also brought first baseman Ryan Zimmerman off the bench to play first base.
"We're just trying to figure out through positive thoughts, how we're going to get out of it,” Baker explained when asked about his thinking in the dugout at that point.
“We always holler 'Triple play!' or 'Double play!' or something,” he said, “but it actually happened.”
A triple play happened that is...
Crawford ripped into a 93 mph 0-1 fastball from Solis, and sent line drive toward first.
Zimmerman made the catch, hustled to first, stepped on the bag and threw across the diamond to third to complete the first 3-3-5 in major league history. No seriously.
It was one of seven triple plays this season and one of 710 total in major league history according to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), but the first 3-3-5.
For the first time in @MLB history, the 3-3-5 triple play: https://t.co/sN2aMyqdNs #ThrillOfTheGamehttps://t.co/SUvCxIWUHs— MLB (@MLB) July 30, 2016
“We moved Zim back before the pitch and you know like I saw it go in his glove, and I saw him touch first base, and then I saw Denard Span coming down the line, evidently from his vantage point he thought it hit the ground,” Baker said after the Nationals held on for a 4-1 win.
“And so, next thing you know that was a triple play. That's only the -- well that's really the first triple play that I've seen in my forty years or something in the game. There was one other one, but I went to the bathroom and ... [laughter]... and then I missed it.
“And then I came out I'm like, 'What happened?', everybody was getting their gloves and they said, 'Triple play.' So, tonight I was happy to see my first real triple play in a baseball game.
"We've had a bunch of things happen this year, a bunch of firsts for the Nationals, and a few things happen -- I didn't know that was the first one in baseball ever? Wow, man. That's a good omen I think."
Was it the best defensive play of the year by the Nationals? Feel free to make other suggestions in the comments below...
Here are two other nominees that came to mind:
Trea Turner’s diving catch in Game 5 of the NLDS:
Ben Revere’s leaping catch at the wall in Atlanta: