How Archie Bradley hit the first playoff triple by a reliever: An oral history
Excuse us if we can’t get over it. Archie Bradley’s triple on Wednesday was the first postseason triple by a reliever in MLB history, and it marked the most exciting play — if not the biggest momentum-swinger — in the the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 11-8 win over the Colorado Rockies in the NL Wild Card Game.
Here’s how the seventh-inning, two-RBI triple came to be with Arizona leading 6-5 with two outs and runners on first and second when Bradley, a pitch and an out into his outing, came to the plate.
Arizona manager Torey Lovullo: “To tell you the truth, I’m not totally shocked. It was a slugfest. And it was a tremendous baseball game with a lot of highs and lows, and you’re trying to manage those through the course of the game. Then Archie walks up there in a situation where I feel like he’s prepared for, and we talked to him during the course of the year, especially as were winding down and aiming toward the postseason that he might have moments like that and get some swings and continue work and know that could come up.
“But what I want to say is, Archie, he’s built for that moment. That’s his personality. You’re talking about an elite high school athlete that understands what it’s like to be on the big stage. He steps up, and he likes to be in that environment and it translated.”
D-backs pitcher Robbie Ray: “It was, I don’t know, it was an amazing at-bat, bunch of sliders. Got one fastball (on the fourth pitch) but then I think it was a (2-2) count, slider, caught it out front and smoked it in the gap.”
Rockies skipper Bud Black: “We knew that (catcher and eight-slot batter Jeff) Mathis was the hitter that I went out there and said, ‘hey, you’ve got Mathis,’ and then it looked as though Bradley was going to hit, right, because there was nobody warming up.
“So here’s an All-Star pitcher (Pat Neshek). This guy’s had a remarkable year. Then it just came down to one of those, like Barry said earlier, a crazy moment where a relief pitcher got a hit off an All-Star. Who would have scripted that one? That’s crazy.”
Bradley: “When I looked down and I looked up and went, ‘I’m going to get to third here,’ and that was kind of my thought process.
“I pride myself on still being athletic, still being able to hit. I was just going up there trying to put the bat on the ball. I knew I had a chance to drive a run in.”
Arizona shortstop Ketel Marte: “I saw that guy. I know. I think he can hit. He can run, too. To get a triple is not easy.”
Lovullo: “I was thinking, please stop right there. I was thinking we’re good. We’re good. I could see him turn that corner and pull a hamstring sliding. Our pitchers don’t practice sliding very often. We do in spring training, but that was six or seven months ago. So I think we were collectively holding our breath to make sure he got up from that dust storm at third base healthy.
“But like I said, this is an elite high school athlete. But that’s high school. Don’t take it the wrong way. He knows what he’s doing. He’s equipped to handle that type of situation.”
Bradley: “No, they say hindsight’s 20/20. I would have much rather just taken a nice jog into second base, stood up and taken my double there. But it’s just kind of who I am. I don’t know any other way to play. So I was going to run as hard as I could until they told me to stop.”
D-backs third baseman Jake Lamb: “It was one of those moments where, I hate to say this in front of him, but the pitcher’s up, two outs. You’re not expecting a whole lot, and he puts this Hall of Fame-type swing on a pitch, and yeah, the whole place went nuts. Obviously, what happened in the next inning happened. But I think it’s just one of those things that you are not expecting that whatsoever. Maybe a base hit, but not a triple like that. So that was a big moment.”