Tigers turn tailor-made triple-play into 5-run inning

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Manager Ron Gardenhire of the Tigers speaks with umpire Larry Vanover after a replay overturned an out during the fifth inning.

Detroit — Ron Gardenhire has seen a lot of odd things over his near 40 years in professional baseball. 

This one had to be near the top of the list.

"We had a triple play that turned into a five-run inning," he said, shaking his head after the Tigers were beaten by the Twins, 11-4 on Wednesday. "That's not good."

Nothing about it was good. 

It was the bottom of the fifth inning and the Tigers trailed 6-4. The Twins had runners at first and second against rookie reliever Sandy Baez. The runners were on the move when Twins rookie Willians Astudillo hit a line drive to second baseman Dawel Lugo.

"Line drive to Lugo, he flips to Ronny (Rodriguez, shortstop) and he throws to first — triple-play," Gardenhire said. "It was pretty simple. It was right in front of him."

Didn't quite happen that way. Lugo initially looked to first after he caught the line drive. He quickly pivoted and threw to second.

"I don't know why he looked to first," Gardenhire said. "I guess he was thinking double-play. Then he kind of threw a soft hand grenade to Ronny."

Rodriguez took the throw but didn't keep his foot on the base. He return to throw to first was dropped by first baseman Niko Goodrum.

Second-base umpire Dave Rackley initially called the runner out at second. But the Twins immediately challenged. Replays were clear that Rodriguez was off the bag when he got the throw from Lugo. Still it took nearly four minutes for the call to be correctly overturned.

"We've tried to explain to these guys, you can't cheat," Gardenhire said. "You have to be on the base. Ronny was trying to cheat coming across, trying to be too quick."

Gardenhire came out after the call was overturned and had a length discussion with crew chief Larry Vanover.

"The guy on second rounded third base completely," he said. "But, when you send it back to (replay headquarters) in New York, they're just going to place the runners when they see what happens. 

"When the umpire missed the call at second, they just place the runners. We didn't really have any recourse. I tried to figure out something, but there was no chance."

So, instead of three outs, inning over, the Tigers got one out, Rodriguez was charged with an error and the Twins went on to score five unearned runs to blow the game open.

The big blow of the inning was a bases-clearing triple by Jorge Polanco off right-hander Zac Reininger.  

"This was not so good of a ballgame for us," Gardenhire said.

Twitter @cmccosky