ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - It doesn't roll off the tongue like Tinker to Evers to Chance, but the Yankees came up with an unlikely triple play -- their third in a four-year span -- in the second inning of Thursday night's 10-2 win over the Rays: Solarte to Roberts to Sizemore.
After allowing a leadoff double to Evan Longoria and a walk to Wil Myers, CC Sabathia got Sean Rodriguez to hit a chopper to third. Rookie Yangervis Solarte stepped on the bag and threw to Brian Roberts, who relayed a quick throw to the unlikeliest of first basemen, Scott Sizemore, to end the inning.
"Everybody was happy. Everybody was pumped," Solarte said through an interpreter after the game. "Everything in general -- we win the game, home run, triple play."
It's the third triple play the Yankees have turned since early in the 2010 season -- amazingly, all in April, and also amazingly, all with Sabathia on the mound. Before those three, they hadn't had a triple play since 1968. It's was only the third time the Rays have hit into one in their 17 seasons, but -- amazingly -- the second time off the bat of Rodriguez.
"Lucky. Unbelievable," said Sabathia, the only pitcher since 1973 to be on the mound for three triple plays. "Just trying to make a pitch to get a double play, and Solarte made a great play, and Sizemore made an even better play on the pick at first."
The triple play ended with a great scoop by Sizemore, 29, who was filling in at first base for the first time at any level in his career. He has played second or third, but after making his Yankees debut at third base on Wednesday, he was asked to fill in. He had to borrow a first-base glove from Kelly Johnson.
"I don't think you ever expect a triple play, but that was pretty cool," Sizemore said. "I saw it kind of developing and said, 'I've got to catch this one at all costs.' I managed to dig it out of the dirt and finish it off."
The previous two Yankees triple plays occurred on April 22, 2010, 5-4-3 against Oakland, and April 12, 2013, a more unusual one against Baltimore that was scored 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 with a pair of rundowns.
"I've never really been a part of one till I've been around CC," manager Joe Girardi said. "They're big plays, obviously, and everybody gets excited."
Rodriguez got a small consolation in the seventh when he hit a solo home run off Sabathia. The last time someone homered and hit into a triple play in the same game? Russell Martin, with the same two teams in the same stadium in 2011.
The triple-play trio also delivered at the plate. Solarte went 3-for-5 with his first career homer and two RBIs, Roberts was 3-for-5 with a triple, a double and two RBIs and Sizemore doubled and scored a run.