They may not be as flashy or practiced as the the Minnesota Twins when it comes to turning double plays (1st in the majors) but the Cincinnati Reds certainly produced one of strangest twin killings of the season on Tuesday night.
With the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, Phillies outfielder Nate Schierholtz lined a ball to center field. Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs charged the ball and reached low to make the grab. He didn't catch it, scooping it off the grass just after it touched down. Coming up throwing, Stubbs fired the ball in to second base as the baserunners and his own teammates in the infield remained unsure if he'd even caught the ball. Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips took the throw from Stubbs and stomped on second. Phillips then wheeled and threw home, where catcher Ryan Hanigan stood. Looking baffled like everyone else, Hanigan stepped on home plate.
"That was a double play. That was a double play.. if it was caught. If it was not caught, it's going to be a double play anyway," explained the announcer.
So what actually happened?
Stubbs was incorrectly credited with the catch for the first out. He then threw to Phillips who stepped on second to double up John Mayberry Jr., who had been on his way from second to third on contact.
If Stubbs' play on the ball had not been ruled a catch then Phillips' throw to Hanigan would have recorded a force out of the runner at third when the play began, while the runner from first (instead of Mayberry Jr.) would have been forced out at second. One way or another, the Reds were going to get two outs on this play. It just so happened that the manner in which they got them included a blown call by an umpire.
With Cincinnati slugger Joey Votto cleared to return to the lineup, the Reds will hardly need it. The NL Central's leading team is sitting comfortably eight and a half games ahead of second place, so even if their plays are a bit confusing, they're still working pretty well.