CLEVELAND -- The special offered at Progressive Field on Tuesday night was two outs for the price of one. Behind starter Aaron Laffey and reliever Jensen Lewis, the Indians turned a club-record six double plays, en route to their 8-7 victory over the Royals. The double plays occurred in consecutive innings from the third through the eighth. "I think we've probably had it before with some of the sinkerballers we've got here," manager Eric Wedge said, "but they were big double plays."
Actually, the Indians hadn't turned this many double plays in a single game since July 10, 1988, against the Angels. The Tribe also turned six against the Tigers in 1952 and against Washington in 1948. For the Royals, the six double plays set a new, dubious team record. Elias Sports Bureau claims it's an American League record also accomplished by 11 other teams, though baseball-almanac.com claims the Yankees grounded into seven double plays against Philadelphia on Aug. 14, 1942. AL record or no AL record, six is a lot, as Royals manager Trey Hillman acknowledged. "That's tough to do in one game," Hillman said. It all came down to the strong start turned in by the sinkerball-tossing Laffey, who induced a double-play ground out in each of his last five innings of work. According to Elias, it had been 39 years since any pitcher recorded groundball double plays in five consecutive innings in a single game. The last to do it was Les Cain of the Tigers on May 6, 1970, in a game against the Twins. "I threw quality pitches to get a double play," Laffey said. "Five double plays is definitely a career-high for me. It helped that my defense was unbelievable behind me." Laffey forced a big one when he got Coco Crisp to ground into an inning-ending, 5-3 double play with the bases loaded and the Indians leading, 6-1, in the seventh. In the eighth, that lead was whittled down to 6-5 with one out and one on when Lewis got Miguel Olivo to ground into a 1-6-3 twin killing to end the threat. "The double plays were big for us," Wedge said.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.