Didi Gregorius ranges up the middle to field a ground ball by Malquin Canelo in the third inning. Gregorius would spin and throw to first in time to get the Lehigh Valley leadoff hitter, but that wasn’t even the most impressive defensive play he was a part of Friday night. Photo by Jason Farmer, staff photographer.
First, RailRiders manager Jay Bell called it the team’s play of the year. Later, Chance Adams one-upped his skipper, dubbing it the best play that’s ever been turned behind him.
Tyler Wade at second. Didi Gregorius at short. Mike Ford at first, holding on Lehigh Valley center fielder Adam Haseley and catcher Deivy Grullon at the plate and one out in the sixth inning of Friday’s game.
Grullon taps a grounder to the right side. If Wade’s playing a normal second base spot, it’s an easy 4-6-3 double play. He’s shaded up the middle, though, so just getting to the ball and settling for one out would seem like a win. Lehigh Valley already had a couple of those against Adams on the night, where a well-placed grounder or a broken-bat blooper squeaked by for a base hit.
Wade thought he could get two outs.
“I knew if I got up in time and made a solid throw to Didi, (if) we were able to get the guy at second — because I wasn’t worried about (Grullon) running, because I knew he didn’t run well — but if I got up in time, got the guy at second, then yeah, for sure,” he said of the possibility of getting a double play.
He didn’t make a decision about which base he was going to throw to until the ball was in his glove. Adams figured first base. Bell did, too. That was the easier play. In Adams’ case, though, he thought getting the out at first might’ve led to the end of his night. He was breezing through the IronPigs lineup, but he was on a pitch count and he was already up against it. A runner on second with two out and the Nos. 5 and 6 hitters coming up? Maybe Bell would make the call to the bullpen.
“I didn’t think he had a chance at all (to turn two),” Bell said. “I wasn’t sure that he was going to get there, and I thought once he got there, he was probably going to throw to first base. That was an extraordinary play. It really was.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Wade picked up Haseley and figured he was three quarters of the way to second base. That was enough of a window. He was going to second.
“It was one of those things where it was like, if he’s safe at second, I knew he was going to be out at first, so I was just like I’m going to take the gamble here,” Wade said. “Didi has a hell of an arm, so …”
Wade stood up out of his slide to stop the ball and got off a strong throw to Gregorius. The Yankees shortstop gloved the ball on the center field side of the bag, spun and tapped his toe on the base in one motion and fired to first, where an outstretched Ford waited to catch it.
Here’s the double play by Tyler Wade and Didi Gregorius. Wade has to go way to his left to even get the ball, then Didi make a crazy toe tap at the bag, then spins and throws on to first to beat Deivy Grullon by a step. pic.twitter.com/rJdeGzlbb7
— Conor Foley (@RailRidersTT) June 1, 2019
Out at second. Out at first. End of the inning.
“And then Wade just goes to second, I’m like ‘Oh, he got him!'” Adams said. “‘Oh, he’s not running down the line! Didi got him! Yeah!’
“That might be the best play I’ve had behind me ever. It was amazing. I’m not a huge emotion guy, but I raised my arms.”
(Here’s the MiLB TV feed of the play. It’s worth watching in full speed)
Gregorius is still looking for his first hit with the RailRiders — he’s 0 for 8 after an 0-for-5 night Friday — on his comeback from Tommy John surgery, but he’s contributing on defense. In the third inning, he stole a hit from Lehigh Valley leadoff hitter Malquin Canelo with a sterling play up the middle that required a spin and a strong throw, too.
“In spring training, he was throwing as hard as hard as I was throwing,” Wade said. “His body heals so fast, man, it’s ridiculous. But that just goes to tell you how hard he actually works and wants to get back out there.”
Didi’s arm looks OK …
Stellar play from the shortstop helps Adams post a scoreless third inning. pic.twitter.com/ipTc9fIUAz
— Conor Foley (@RailRidersTT) May 31, 2019