Thursday night’s game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs featured a triple from Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds. That, in itself, isn’t noteworthy. How the play happened, though, was.

Reynolds got jammed on a pitch and sent it down the third baseline. But with the Cubs shifting, there was nobody there to field the ball. It seemed like Reynolds would get a double on the play but on his way to second, he realized something. Nobody was at third. With that, he kept running and found himself on third base with a triple.

If this feels like déjà vu, it kind of is. In a 2021 game between the two teams, Javier Báez (then of the Cubs) made a great baserunning play. That, coinciding with the epic failure of the Pittsburgh defense, allowed a run to score. This time, though, the teams were in opposite roles.

The comparisons between the two plays did not go unnoticed.

That was not the only observation MLB fans made about this play, though.

It’s easy to blame the shift here but the reality is, the hit itself is an understood risk. In overshifts like this, if a batter wants to get a hit, all he needs to do is drop a bunt down. As long as it can’t be fielded by the pitcher or catcher, he can walk to first base. Defenses will generally be willing to absorb softly-hit doubles. They have to be because jammed swings going against the shift will happen.

What the Cubs did here, though, is harder to accept. They completely dropped the ball on the defensive rotation. The normal defensive roles change. The pitcher would not usually cover third base but in this situation, he had to. The third baseman had to chase the ball down. Either of the two middle infielders could have broken to third, as well. It’s a long run but all they had to do was be ahead of Reynolds and he would have stayed at second.

Chicago did work its way around the defensive blunder. Reynolds was stranded at third. Still, the Pirates won the game 4-3.

[Pittsburgh Pirates]

About Michael Dixon

Michael has a background in sports writing both online (Bleacher Report, Sportsnaut, Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks) and in print (Sedona Red Rock News, Brentwood Press). Sports have been a lifeline passion for Michael and he continues to enjoy writing and talking about them.