The Pirates turned the sixth triple play of the 2014 season Sunday afternoon against the Cubs, their first since an April 2009 game in Cincinnati and the first in the 14-year history of PNC Park. Pittsburgh defeated Chicago 7-3 to preserve its 1 1/2-game lead over Milwaukee for the second NL wild card spot.
It’s been quite a few days for 25-year-old Cubs rookie outfielder Matt Szczur, who hit the first home run of his career against the Pirates on Saturday. In the top of the 4th inning Sunday, with the Cubs up 3-0, he came to bat after Chris Valaika doubled and Mike Olt walked. Szczur hit a ground ball off pitcher Edinson Volquez to third baseman Josh Harrison, who forced out Valaika and threw to second baseman Neil Walker, who forced out Olt and threw to Andrew Lambo in time to catch Szczur at first — a neat around-the-horn 5-4-3 double play.
It would prove to be a turning point for Pittsburgh, who went on to score seven runs, including six in a death-by-a-thousand-cuts fifth inning that saw 11 Pirates come to the plate.
The Yankees, Rockies, Cardinals, Indians and Mets have already pulled off triple plays this season with the Dodgers twice the victims. The Cubs last hit into a triple play in May of 2000 in a game against the Expos. The last time Chicago turned a triple play was 1997 against the Giants.