Ramon Santiago may not have realized it on Monday, but he found a fairly unique way to end a baseball game when he hit a walkoff triple to lead the Tigers to a 2-1 victory over the Rays in ten innings.
In an era in which we're used to walkoff homers and singles and even walkoff walks are glorified, the walkoff triple is a rare event. Santiago's walkoff triple last night was the first since Rajai Davis hit one on August 3, 2009. That was the only walkoff triple in 2009. There was only one in 2008, too, off of Eugenio Velez's bat in September. There were three in 2007 (Chone Figgins, Luke Scott, and Rick Ankiel), one in 2006, two in 2005, two in 2004, one in 2003, two in 2002, and just one in 2001.
It makes sense that the walkoff triple would be such a rare play; why should a runner keep running on a ball in the gap that's obviously going to score the game winning run? Most potential walkoff triples probably end up in the books as walkoff doubles. Santiago only made it to third on his hit last night because Victor Martinez is so slow that what should've been an easy game-winner ended up with a throw to the plate. Santiago had to keep running so that in case Martinez was thrown out, he'd still have a chance to score.
In fact, that's what a walkoff triple is almost always going to take; a ball in the gap, a slow runner, a play at the plate, and less than two outs so that the batter has motivation to keep on booking. It's not a confluence of events that we ever see more than once or twice a year.
Also last night: Carlos Carrasco and his bullpen shut the Yankees out 1-0 while Derek Jeter went down with a mild calf strain after recording his 2,994th career hit. Zach Duke hit his second home run of the year for the D'Backs, but also gave up 13 hits in less than five innings and couldn't even record a win after being handed leads of 9-0 and 12-3. The D'Backs did hold on for a 12-9 victory. Ryan Dempster, Jeff Samardzija, and Carlos Marmol combined on a four-hit 1-0 shutout to stop the streaking Brewers. Yesterday's full results here.
Looking forward: A full slate of games tonight kicks off the last series before interleague play gets back into full swing. Justin Verlander and Justin Masterson face off in Detroit with first place in the AL Central on the line. The Red Sox send Tim Wakefield out to try and extend their 4 1/2 game lead over the Rays and James Shields. The Cardinals look to bounce back from their sweep at the hands of the Brewers against the Nats. Tonight's probable pitchers here.