Cubs' short-to-first double plays

In the bottom of the ninth inning at Milwaukee on Friday night, with a runner on first and nobody out, Brice Turang of the Brewers swung at a 2-1 cutter thrown by Mark Leiter Jr. of the Cubs.

The ball was grounded just to the left of second base, where shortstop Dansby Swanson picked it up, stepped on the base and fired to Cody Bellinger at first for a a second out.


A commenter on the Game Thread called it an "unassisted 6-3 DP," which, of course, it was not.

But it made me wonder how often a shortstop and first baseman combined to make a pair of outs.

So I used the Pivotal Play Finder at to find all double plays started by a Cubs shortstop since 1914, first season for which the site has searchable play-level data.

Then I extracted just the DPs that involved only those 2 fielders.

I was surprised at what I found.



The Swanson-Bellinger DP was the 15,364th by the Cubs over the past 110 seasons, an average of 140 per year.

It was their 136th this season. A year ago, they had 139; in 2021, 149.

Their record is 176, in 1928, followed by 175, in 1961, and 174, in 1926.

Their most this century is 157, in 2003. They had 155 in 2018.


Of those 15,364 total DPs, a shortstop has started 4,693 -- 30.5 percent, or a little less than one third.

That is an average of about 43 per season.


What percentage of those 4,693 would you guess consisted entirely of the shortstop throwing to the first baseman?

If you guessed 20.2 percent -- a tad more than 1 of every 5 -- you would be correct.

I, for one, never would have guessed it was that high.

But it is. The Bellinger-Swanson DP was the 950th of its kind since 1914.



The Cubs have executed 136 double plays this season, 46 of them started by shortstops.

The Swanson-Bellinger DP on Friday night was the 10th that went 6-3.

That is 21.7 percent, slightly higher than the percentage for all 110 seasons.

Here are the dates and details of the 10 this year:

May 25, at home vs. Mets, 6th inning, runner on 1st, nobody out, Cubs behind 5-1

May 29, at home vs. Rays, 7th inning, runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, Cubs ahead 1-0

June 11, at San Francisco, 8th inning, runner on 1st, 1 out, Cubs behind 13-3

July 20, at home vs. Cardinals, 9th inning, runner on 1st, 1 out, Cubs behind 7-2

July 21, at home vs. Cardinals, 8th inning, bases loaded, 1 out, Cubs ahead 4-3

Aug. 13, at Toronto, 6th inning, runners on 1st and 2nd, nobody out, Cubs behind 8-2

Aug. 21, at Detroit, 7th inning, runner on 1st, 1 out, Cubs ahead 4-2

Aug. 24, at Pittsburgh, 8th inning, runners on first, nobody out, tied 3-3

Sept. 1, at Cincinnati, 7th inning, runners on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, Cubs ahead 3-1

Sept. 29, at Milwaukee, 9th inning, runner on 1st, nobody out, tied 3-3



While a 6-3 double play clearly is infrequent but not unusual, the one by Swanson and Bellinger was, in fact, exceeding rare.

It was only the third, of all 950, that came with the bases loaded and the score tied in the bottom of the ninth!



On Sept. 14, 1952, the Cubs had ended a scoreless battle at Boston when Frank Baumholtz doubled with 1 out in the sixth inning and came home on a single by Dee Fondy.

Cubs starter Bob Schultz blanked the Braves through 7 innings, despite giving up 5 hits and walking 4.

Then the first 3 batters singled in the eighth, producing the tying run. A runner who had been on first was thrown out trying for third as the run scored. A called third strike and a popup kept the game tied at 1.

Baumholtz led off the Cubs' ninth with a single and was bunted to second. After Hank Sauer walked, Bill Serena grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

Schultz then issued a leadoff walk. That runner was forced out, then shortstop Tommy Brown snared a line drive and rifled the ball to Fondy at first to double off the runner.


114 of the 6-3 double plays have been on line drives, which is 12 percent of all 950 -- about 1 of every 8.

All 10 this year were on grounders, raising the total to 821.

The Cubs had a pair of line drive 6-3 double plays among their 8 last season.

9 of 6-3 DPs began with the shortstop catching what is described as a "fly ball" and 6 on popups.


In the 10th inning of the 1952 game, Harry Chiti smacked a 1-out single. A pinch hitter flied out, bringing Schultz to the plate.

The 28-year-old left hander had started the day with a 6-3 record and 3.92 ERA. But as a hitter, he had made only 3 singles in 17 at bats.

Earlier in the game, Schultz had grounded out, struck out and lined out.

This time, he sent a ball winging to left center. Chiti rounded third and headed for home. The Braves' shortstop took the throw from the outfielder, then threw the ball past the catcher, as Chiti scored.

Schultz wound up on third and came home moments later on a single by Brown.


In the bottom half, Schultz coaxed the first batter to fly out, then caught a popped up bunt for the second out.

A home run cut the Cubs' lead to 3-2, then another fly wrapped up the hard-earned victory.



Schultz's final line was 2 runs on 9 hits, 6 walks and 3 strikeouts.

He had completed 2 games as a rookie in 1951, when he was 3-6 with a 5.24 ERA.

The win at Boston was his first complete game of 1952, which he finished 6-3, 4.01.

He never won another big league game.

In 1953, he was 0-2, 5.40, in 7 games, 2 of them starts, when the Cubs traded him to the Pirates on June 4 as part of a 5-for-4 swap that brought slugger Ralph Kiner to the Cubs.


Schultz was 0-2, 8.20, in 11 games, including 2 starts, for the Pirates.

He spent 1954 in the minors, compiling an 18-11 record and 3.52 ERA, then signed with the Tigers. He relieved in 1 game for them in 1955, giving up 3 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks in 1.1 innings, for an ERA of 20.25

After another season in the minors, Schulz retired, at age 32.

In the majors, he was 9-11, 4.69 in 53 games and 17 starts for the Cubs, and 9-13, 5.16 overall, in 65 games including 19 starts.

He was only 55 when he died in 1979.



The Cubs' only other tie-preserving 6-3 double play in the ninth inning was made on April 18, 1990.

Like Friday's, it took place at Milwaukee against the Brewers.

Brad Woodall, a 29-year-old left, had gone 7-9, 4.96, with the Brewers in 1998. They waived him on March 31, 1999 and he was claimed by the Cubs.

The game against his old team was just his third as a Cub and his second as a starter.

After 3 batters, the Cubs were behind, 3-0, on a 5-pitch walk, first-pitch single and home run on a 2-0 count by Jeff Cirillo.


Woodall gave way to Rodney Myers with 2 on and 2 out in the third. Myers escaped the jam, then stranded 2 more runners in the fourth, as did Felix Heredia in the fifth.

So when Mickey Morandini led off the Cubs' sixth and Mark Grace slammed a 1-out homer, the score was just 3-2.

With 2 out and nobody on in the seventh, Morandini beat out an infield hit, went to second on a wild pitch and raced home on a single by Sammy Sosa.


It was still 3-3 when the first 2 Cubs were retired in the ninth. Then Sosa doubled, Grace was walked intentionally and pinch hitter Gary Gaetti drew a full-count walk.

Manny Alexander pinch hit and rapped a double that drove home Sosa and Grace, for a 5-3 lead.


Closer Rod Beck got the first out, then yielded back-to-back first-pitch singles.

He got ahead of the next batter, 0-1, then served up another single, that produced a run and put runners on the corners.

A dribbler toward third base was enough for the tying run to score. Cirillo came to the plate with men on first and second.

He took a strike, then grounded to Jose Hernandez. He stepped on second and threw to Grace to end the inning.


Hernandez led off the Cubs' 10th. He swung and missed at the first pitch, fouled off the second and sent the third over the fence down the right field line for a homer.

New Cubs reliever Dan Serafini gave up a 1-out single in the bottom half. He got 2 strikes on the next batter, who then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game

So, Friday's 4-3 loss was the Cubs' first in which they made a tying 6-3 double play in the ninth.



The Cubs have made 2 such double plays in the bottom of the 10th inning with the score tied.

They have made 2 each in the bottom of the 10th and 11th after taking leads.

At home, they have turned 6-3 DPs with the score tied 5 times in the 9th, once in the 10th, 3 times in the 11th, once in the 12th and 3 times in the 13th.


The first 2 in the 13th were on line drives, both with nobody out and a runner on first, in a 5-5 stalemate against the Dodgers on May 10, 1988, and in a 2-2 battle against the Padres on June 2, 1992.

The Cubs lost to the Dodgers, 6-5, in 14 innings.

They beat the Padres, 3-2, on a 2-out RBI single by Grace in the bottom of the 13th.



On the 26th anniversary of the win over the Padres, June 2, 2018, the Cubs made their latest 6-3 double play, at New York against the Mets.

Each team had scored a run in the sixth, then neither scored again through the 13th.

With 1 out in the 14th, Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber singled. Albert Almora doubled both home.

After an intentional and unintentional walk, Ben Zobrist's double tallied 2 more runs. Javier Baez followed with a 2-run homer, for a 7-1 bulge.


Brandon Morrow gave up a 1-out single in the bottom half. On an 0-2 count, the next batter lined out to shortstop Addison Russell, whose throw to Anthony Rizzo doubled off the runner and ended the game.



The Cubs' only previous line-drive, game-ending 6-3 double play also had been against the Mets, on May 26, 1965.

George Altman's 2-run homer had put the Cubs on top, 8-6, in the top of the 10th.

Lindy McDaniel got a fly out and walked a batter. Chuck Hiller then hit a liner to Roberto Pena and he threw to Ernie Banks for the third out.


The Cubs also wrapped up a 6-5 win over the Mets at home on July 28, 1989, when Howard Johnson hit a popup that Shawon Dunston and Grace turned into the final 2 outs.


Each of their 26 other game-ending 6-3 DPs came on a grounder, including the last 2, which came 23 days apart in 2020: on Aug. 12, with a 7-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth at Cleveland, and on Sept. 4, with a 4-1 lead in the top of the ninth at home against the Cardinals.


7 of the total 29 last-play 6-3 DPs took place with the Cubs ahead by 1 run. All were with the only runner on first. All but 1 were in the 9th inning.

The 6 besides the popup in 1989 were:

June 21, 1946, at New York, 9th, ahead 5-4

July 2, 1955, at home vs. Cardinals, 9th, ahead 4-3

Aug. 2, 1958, at Philadelphia, 9th, ahead 6-5

May 27, 1976, at home vs. Cardinals, 9th, ahead 2-1

Aug. 18, 1991, at Montreal, 11th, ahead 3-2

June 11, 2007, at home vs. Astros, ahead 2-1



The Cubs' biggest lead when they ended a game with a 6-3 double play was 12-0, at home against the Astros on July 29, 2009.

They wrapped up a 10-0 win over the Astros, also at home, on July 8, 1979, and a 9-0 win over the Braves at Boston on July 28, 1922.

That was just the second of the 29 games that ended on a 6-3 DP.

The third did not take place for almost 8 years, until July 24, 1930, at Philadelphia. It capped a 19-15 slugfest.

The fourth, at Boston on May 25, 1933, completed a 3-0 victory -- the only other shutout besides the 9-0, 10-0 and 12-0 games concluded with a 6-3 DP.



The double play in the 9-0 win in 1922 came with runners on first and second.

Only 4 subsequent game-ending 6-3 DPs came with similar runners.

Just 2 happened with runners on first and third: the first of them all, a 6-1 win over the Pirates at home on April 13, 1917, and a 4-3 win at Atlanta on June 16, 1973.

None have come with the bases loaded.



The Cubs have made a 6-3 DP with runners on every base once in each of the last 3 seasons, including this year.

They made none in the 60-game 2020 season, after having made 3 in 2019. Those were their first since 2012.

3 of 36 total bases-loaded 6-3 DPs happened in the ninth inning, all at home and all with 1 out: with the score 3-3 against the Braves, on May 5, 1992; 6-6 against the Dodgers, Aug. 27, 2000; and with the Cubs behind, 2-1, against the Brewers on June 22, 2001.

The Cubs failed to score in the bottom of the ninth of the latter game. The lost the 2 earlier ones as well, both in the 10th, by 4-3 and 7-6.



Here is a breakdown of the runners on base for all 950 shortstop-first baseman double plays since 1914, with the number at home and on the road in parentheses after each total:

1--: 677 (336/341)

12-: 164 (79/85)

1-3: 73 (41/32)

123: 36 (15/21)

Total: 950 (471/479)



And here is the breakdown by inning, eighth and later, again with home and road in parentheses:

8th: 112 (65/47)

9th: 77 (55/22)

10th: 6 (2/4)

11th: 5 (3/2)

12th: 1 (1/0)

13th: 3 (3/0)

14th: 1 (0/1)

Total: 205 (129/76)


Those 205 late-inning 6-3 double plays are 21.6 percent of all 950 such DPs since 1914 by the Cubs, 4.4 percent of all 4,693 DPS started by shortstops and 1.3 percent all 15,364 total DPs.

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