When shortstop turned hit into out at plate

In the first inning of the Cubs' game at home last Tuesday, Wander Franco of the Rays singled with out, then stole second.

After the next batter walked, Brandon Lowe smacked a hard ground ball to the right of second base. Nico Hoerner dove for the ball, but it glanced off Hoerner's glove and into the grass in short left field.

Franco rounded third base and headed for home. Dansby Swanson picked up the ball and fired it to catcher Yan Gomes, who was called out.

The Rays challenged the decision, but the call was confirmed.

The play was scored as an infield single, on which the shortstop threw a runner was out at home.



It was just the 4th such play by the Cubs since 1961, first season of the Expansion Era.

I ran searches at for all singles by opposing players in each season from then to now, one season at a time

Lowe's single was the 60,343rd during those 62-plus years.

Then I searched among the descriptions of each year's singles for any that did not reach the outfield and included "Out at Hm."



Last week's such single was the first since Sept. 23, 1997.

The Cubs were trailing, 5-3, at the Astrodome in Houston when Rodney Myers took over on the mound to start the eighth inning.

He got the first batter to fly out, then hit Tony Eusebio and gave up a single to Ricky Gutierrez.

Eusebio stopped at second. He was forced out at third moments later on a bunt by pitcher Darryl Kile, bringing up Craig Biggio with 2 out and runners at first and second.


Biggio swung at a 3-2 pitch. The play description says:

"Single to P (Ground Ball to Weak SS-2B); Gutierrez out at Hm/SS-C."

The shortstop was Manny Alexander; the catcher, Scott Servais.

There is no mention of the play in any newspaper accounts of the game that I could find online, nor could I locate any video of it.

The Cubs put 2 on with 1 out in the ninth, then Billy Wagner came out of the bullpen and struck out Ryne Sandberg and Miguel Cairo to end the game.


Lowe's single last week was 22,172nd against the Cubs since the one by Biggio more than a quarter of a century earlier.



The previous infield single on which a Cubs shortstop gunned down a runner trying to score had been on July 18, 1989, at Dodger Stadium.

Greg Maddux took a 2-1 lead into the fifth inning. He hit leadoff batter Mike Scioscia, then fielded a bunt by pitcher Orel Hershiser and made the out unassisted.

Alfredo Griffin grounded a ball between short and third. Scioscia stopped at third, while Griffin raced to second.

Kirk Gibson worked the count to 3-2, then hit a liner down the left field line for a 2-run double.

Maddux walked Eddie Murray batter intentionally, putting runners on first and second for Mike Marshall.


From the next day's Chicago Tribune:

"Marshall cracked a grounder into the hole.

"Shawon Dunston made a diving grab but had no other play, at least not until Gibson gave him one by charging around third base. Maddux cut off Dunston's peg and tagged Gibson before he could even slide."


The play-by-play says it was catcher Damon Berryhill, not Maddux who made the tag.

The box score shows Maddux with 2 putouts in the game and the play-by-play says he caught a line drive in the third inning, as well as the out on the bunt in the fifth.

Berryhill is credited with 5 putouts. He caught 4 strikeouts and made no other plays in the field, so the tag had to be the fifth.


Maddux gave up 2 more runs in the sixth, on a leadoff double, a 1-out RBI single by Scioscia, and a 2-out double by Griffin.

Hershiser went the distance and yielded only 4 hits, all singles. He struck out 5 and walked none.



Until last week, June 19, 1974, was the only game at Wrigley Field in which a Cubs shortstop had turned an infield hit into an out at home.

Bobby Tolan, first batter of the day for the Padres, dragged a bunt past Cubs pitcher Jim Todd for a hit, then was sacrificed to second.

Tolan was halfway to third when right fielder Jose Cardenal caught a fly by Dave Winfield. Cardenal fired toward second, hoping to double off Tolan, but his throw sailed over the head of second baseman Dave Rosello.

Tolan sprinted toward third. Shortstop Don Kessinger retrieved the ball and threw it past third, enabling Tolan to score.

That proved to be the only run of the game.


Padres rookie pitcher Dan Spillner walked Billy Williams and Cardenal with 2 out in the bottom half, but got Bill Madlock to pop up.

The Cubs did not make a hit until 2 out in the third, when Rick Monday lined a ball off Spillner. They never made another, but did draw 4 more walks.

Todd allowed just 1 hit after the first-inning bunt, a line single with 1 out in the fifth.


Burt Hooton relieved Spillner to start the ninth.

Tolan singled and again was bunted to second. After Winfield struck out, Willie McCovey stepped to the plate

The play-by-play says: "Single to SS; Tolan out at Hm/SS-C."

None of the newspaper accounts of the game provide further detail of the play.

The catcher was Steve Swisher.



Besides the 3 outs by shortstop to catcher on infield hits prior to last week, I found 11 infield hits on which the second baseman threw out a runner at home.

The first 2 were in 1961 and 1962, then it happened twice in 3 weeks, on May 15 and June 5, 1973, and once each in 1974 and 1976.

There was 1 each in 1991 and 1992, another in 1998 and the final pair in 2017 and 2019.

The most recent, on Sept. 13, 2019, came at home against the Pirates.

The Cubs led, 5-4, after 2 innings. Jon Lester got the first 2 outs in the third, then gave up a double to Pablo Reyes.

Adam Frazier grounded a ball toward right field. Second baseman David Bote dove for it. He stopped it, but it trickled out of his glove.

Reyes saw the bobble and headed for home. Bote picked up the ball and threw to Willson Contreras, who applied the tag.



The 1976 infield hit and out, on Sept. 4 at home against the Cardinals, began as virtually a reverse mirror image of the play that took place last week.

Jerry Mumphrey walked with 1 out in the third and stole second. After a strikeout, Lou Brock smashed a ball up the middle that was knocked down by shortstop Mick Kelleher.

Lying on his belly, Kelleher flipped the ball to second baseman Manny Trillo, who spotted Mumphrey trying to score. Trillo's throw to catcher George Mitterwald easily cut down Mumphrey.

That play was scored 6-4-2.

The one last week went into the books as just 6-2, but just as easily could have been 4-6-2.

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