Although the San Diego Padres have never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter and just recently had the club’s first (and second) batter hit for the cycle, the team has accomplished another rare feat on eight occasions – the triple play. Unfortunately, triple plays over the history of baseball have been more than three times as easy to obtain as no-hitters or hits for the cycle – the sport’s true rare feats.
Here are the Padres’ triple plays:
1. Joe Niekro to Tommy Dean (1-6)
Aug. 13, 1969, San Diego Stadium
After Joe Niekro gave up a leadoff single to Don Kessinger and another to Glenn Beckert, Niekro snagged a line drive off the bat of Billy Wililams and threw to shortstop Tommy Dean to catch the two runners. The Cubs won 4-2.
2. Don Mason to Nate Colbert to Enzo Hernandez (4-3-6)
Aug. 1, 1971, San Diego Stadium
Clay Kirby was protecting a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning when he gave up a leadoff single to the Atlanta Braves’ Earl Williams, who reached second on a wild pitch to Hal King before Kirby walked King. Second-baseman Don Mason snagged a hard-hit liner off the bat of Oscar Brown, threw to first-baseman Nate Colbert to double King off first and then Colbert threw to shortstop Enzo Hernandez to triple Williams off second. Kirby held on for a 2-0 complete-game shutout.
3. Rafael Robles to Derrel Thomas to Nate Colbert (6-4-3)
June 4, 1972, San Diego Stadium
In the top of the ninth inning with the Cubs leading 3-1, Chicago’s Carmen Fanzone reached base on an error by Padres third-baseman Garry Jestadt and then Mike Caldwell gave up a single to Jose Cardenal. The Cubs’ Randy Hundley then hit a grounder to shortstop Rafael Robles, who tags Fanzone from second, throws to second-baseman Derrel Thomas to force out Cardenal and then Thomas throws to first-baseman Nate Colbert to complete the triple play. The Padres managed to get two baserunners aboard in the bottom of the ninth but couldn’t score a run.
4. Bill Almon to Derrel Thomas to Gene Richards (5-4-3)
April 11, 1978, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
The Braves were trying to get on the board in a scoreless game in the bottom of the second inning with back-to-back singles by Dale Murphy and Rod Gilbreath. Up came Braves’ starting pitcher Phil Niekro, who hit a grounder to third-baseman Bill Almon. Almon steps on third to force out Gilbreath, throws to second-baseman Derrel Thomas to retire Murphy and then Thomas throws to first-baseman Gene Richards to get Niekro. The Padres would go on to win 3-1.
5. Gary Tempelton to Tim Flannery to Kurt Bevacqua (6-4-3)
July 31, 1983, Jack Murphy Stadium
Padres starter Mark Thurmond was protecting a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning when he walked the Braves’ Chris Chambliss and gave up a single to Terry Harper. Glenn Hubbard hit a hard grounder to shortstop Gary Tempelton, who fielded the ball, tagged Chris Chambliss and threw to second-baseman Tim Flannery. Flannery doubled-up Harper before throwing to first-baseman Kurt Bevacqua to complete the triple play. The Padres would win the game 5-2.
6. Luis Salazar to Roberto Alomar to Jack Clark to Mark Parent (5-4-3-2)
April 9, 1989, Astrodome
After Eric Show began the bottom of the eighth inning by walking Kevin Bass, Manager Jack McKeon brought in Mark Davis to face Greg Gross. Gross laid down a sacrifice bunt but reached first on an error by second baseman Roberto Alomar. Ken Caminiti stepped to the plate and hit a liner down the third base line, which was fielded by third-baseman Luis Salazar, who threw to Alomar for one, and Alomar threw to Jack Clark for the double play. Clark realized that Bass was heading home and threw to catcher Mark Parent, who tagged out Bass at the plate. The Padres wound up winning 5-4.
7. Andy Ashby to Chris Gomez to Archi Cianfrocco (1-6-3)
May 19, 1997, Cinergy Field
Andy Ashby got off to a shaky start in this game, giving up three consecutive singles to Deion Sanders, Curtis Goodwin and Barry Larkin, with Sanders scoring to even the game at 1-1. With Goodwin and Larkin in motion, Eddie Taubensee hit a liner back to Ashby who, according to the AP, caught the ball behind his leg, and threw to Gomez to double-up Larkin and then Gomez threw to first-baseman Archi Cianfrocco to get Goodwin. The Padres won 13-6.
8. Chase Headley to Lance Zawadzki to Adrian Gonzalez (5-4-3)
June 10, 2010 (Game 2), Citi Field
The Mets had a 1-0 lead in the second inning of this game and were threatening to add to it in the second. With no-out and runners on first and second, Ruben Tejada drove a sharp grounder right to third base, where Chase Headley fielded the ball and stepped on third to retire Rod Barajas. He fired to second baseman Lance Zawadzki to get Jeff Francoeur out, and then Zawadzki threw to first to get Tejada and complete the around-the-horn triple-play. The Mets won 3-0 to split the doubleheader.