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Hardly a Typical Dodgers Double Play

Two runners thrown out trying to score on same play is baffling to many, including those involved.

October 05, 2006|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — This play will live forever in Dodgers infamy.

For the blooper reels, it was an instant classic. For the Dodgers, it was an embarrassing and costly blunder -- two men tagged out at home plate on the same play. The Dodgers lost two runners on the play and lost the game by one run, 6-5, to the New York Mets in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

"We spent the whole season in L.A., so we certainly know what a traffic jam is," Dodgers Manager Grady Little said. "We had one right there, and it cost us."

Neither side scored in the first inning, but Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew started the second with singles. Russell Martin then smashed a fly ball deep to right field, over the head of Shawn Green, triggering the moments of madness.

Green played the ball perfectly. Instead of chasing the ball to the wall -- and perhaps having the rebound skid past him -- he stopped as he approached the wall and turned to field the carom. Kent, running from second base, saw the ball fly over Green's head and said he hollered to Drew, "Let's go!"

Said Kent: "I figured the ball was going to hook around the corner. I didn't know the ball had already been picked up and been perfectly thrown."

Kent had paused between second and third base, making sure the ball would not be caught. So, by the time he rounded third, the ball was well on its way from Green to second baseman Jose Valentin, who made a strong throw to catcher Paul Lo Duca.

"Jeff had no chance to score, in my mind," third base coach Rich Donnelly said.

Lo Duca tagged out Kent, looked to the umpire for the call, then turned around and tagged Drew for the 9-4-2 double play. Drew did not hesitate in running from first base, and so he nearly caught Kent at third base.

"Thank goodness Drew had his head down," Mets Manager Willie Randolph said.

"As I went to throw my hands up, out of the corner of my eye, here comes J.D.," Donnelly said. "If I hold Jeff, we've got two guys on third."

Drew said he could have held up at third base had Donnelly flashed a stop sign, but he also said he expected Kent would have scored.

"I thought the play was going to be on me at home plate," Drew said. "I thought Jeff would score standing up."

As Drew headed home and saw the play on Kent, he froze, just for a moment, but enough so that Lo Duca could recover and tag him out too.

"If he runs all the way and doesn't stop, he probably makes it," Donnelly said.

If Lo Duca hadn't turned around in time, Drew probably would have made it. So Mets third baseman David Wright screamed that Drew was coming, in the hope Lo Duca might hear him.

"I was trying to do anything," Wright said. "I was going to throw my glove up there just to let him know about J.D. Drew."

As Drew walked back to the dugout, he glared at Donnelly.

"It was a question," Drew said. "I didn't know if he had tried to stop me. Evidently, he didn't want both of us stuck on third base."

Randolph called the play "a total flashback." In 1985, as the New York Yankees second baseman, he watched as Carlton Fisk of the Chicago White Sox tagged out Bobby Meacham and Dale Berra on the same play, on a relay from center field after a single by Rickey Henderson.

Times staff writer Tim Brown contributed to this report.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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