NEW YORK — Holding onto a one-run lead by a thread in the top of the ninth inning on Sunday afternoon, the Yankees needed a miracle.
Aroldis Chapman had walked the first two batters of the frame on nine pitches, unable to find the strike zone due to a fingernail issue that necessitated a visit from a trainer and manager Aaron Boone.
Moments after the meeting on the mound, New York got out of the jam on one pitch.
Oakland's Sean Murphy hooked a heater from Chapman right to Gio Urshela, who stood adjacent to the third base bag. The third baseman swiftly stepped on the base to his right for one, fired to DJ LeMahieu at second for two, who whipped a strike over to first, ending the game on a triple play.
"I mean, it's incredible," Chapman said through the team's interpreter after the game. "You can tell this to someone and they probably won't believe it, they will need to see it."
The 5-4-3 triple play wasn't just a game-winner—clinching the 2-1 victory over Oakland to win the series—it was also New York's third triple play of the season, the most in a single season in franchise history.
On May 21, the Yankees turned a practically identical triple play against the White Sox, going around the horn to end the top of the ninth in a tie game. Chapman was on the mound for that play as well and New York went on to win in the bottom of the frame.
Then, just last week against the Blue Jays, the Yankees turned a 1-3-6-2-5-6 triple play, the first of its kind in MLB history.
That's three triple plays in a matter of 27 games, matching the most any team has had in a single season in the Modern Era.
In the Yankees Zoom room, Boone quipped that he told Chapman to fire in a sinker "for the three-ball." With three triple plays in less than a month, one of the most unique plays in the sport has become relatively routine for those in pinstripes.
"Usually a triple play sneaks up on you," Boone said, recalling his line of sight from the first-base dugout. "Right away, I'm thinking 'that's a triple play.' And sure enough."
Clinching a dramatic win in front of the biggest crowd of the season to this point is nice, but doing so to seal a series win over one of the best teams in the American League tastes even sweeter.
New York has now won five of their last six, beginning to gather some momentum in third place in the division, heading into an off day on Monday. They'll take on the Kansas City Royals in the Bronx to start the week before traveling up to Boston for the first time this season for a weekend series against their rivals at Fenway Park.
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