Every time you go to the ballpark you might see something you've never seen before. Such was the case Monday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, where fans saw the first 8-5 (center fielder to third baseman) triple play in Major League Baseball history. The Minnesota Twins turned the first-of-its-kind triple play against the home Chicago White Sox in an eventual 6-3 victory, though it would be more accurate to say the White Sox ran into the triple play.
AJ Pollock lifted a well-struck fly ball with no outs and runners on first and second to Byron Buxton in center field, and Yoan Moncada and Adam Engel both had a bit of a mental lapse on the bases following the catch. Here's the video.
It's a confusing play so here's the breakdown: Buxton's catch is the first out. The second out is Gio Urshela tagging Moncada, who was the runner at first base when the play began. The third out is Urshela stepping on second base to double off Engel. Engel was way out of frame and somewhere near home plate at the time.
Although the triple play is the headliner, you should take a moment to appreciate Buxton's catch. That was not an easy play. Statcast says Pollock's drive had an 82 percent hit probability based on the launch angle and exit velocity. Buxton is just that good in center field. Engel said he thought the ball was not caught, which is why he darted toward home.
"When he looked toward the wall, I thought he was looking for the ball to go down," Engel told MLB.com. "I just made a bad play. Made a mistake on it. Unfortunate. It cost us some runs right there, most likely, and probably would have gone on to win the game."
MLB.com and the SABR database confirm it is indeed the first 8-5 triple play in baseball history. By my unofficial count, this is the 27th triple play started by a center fielder, and the first since former New York Mets center fielder Angel Pagan started a 8-2-6-3 triple play with a shoestring catch against the Washington Nationals in 2010.
The Twins have made a habit of turning triple plays the past few years. Monday's was their fourth since 2019. No team has more. The White Sox, meanwhile, have hit into triple plays in back-to-back seasons after not hitting into one from 2011-20.