The number three pops up all over the place in baseball. Three strikes and you're out. Three outs in an inning. Many linescores are three groups of three innings each. Most series are three games.
And this was week number three of the 2014 season, which might explain all of this happening:
• On Thursday the New York Yankees took an early lead over the Tampa Bay Rays with a pair of triples in the top of the 2nd. It was their first inning with two three-baggers in nearly three years (May 19, 2011, at Baltimore). In the bottom of the inning they recorded three outs on one pitch when Sean Rodriguez grounded into a triple play. The Yankees have turned just three triple plays in the past 45 years, and CC Sabathia has been on the mound for all of them. How many triple plays have the Rays hit into in their history? Yep, three.
• The Yankees were the first team to hit two triples and turn a triple play in one game since the 2004 Astros, and they are the first team since at least 1939 to do it in the same inning.
• Later on Thursday, the Toronto Blue Jays' bullpen got mired in an epic inning that saw the Minnesota Twins score six runs on one hit... and eight! walks. (The major-league record is 11 walks in an inning, dating to 1949.) Sergio Santos faced three batters and issued three walks and three wild pitches-- two of which were on ball four, and all of which scored runs. He's the first pitcher in the live-ball era to throw three wild pitches and not record an out. And he's the first pitcher to issue three run-scoring wild pitches since starter Rob Bell for the Rangers on Aug. 18, 2001. No reliever had done it as far back as play-by-play is available (to around 1950).
Santos also became the first Blue Jays pitcher to surrender three runs on zero hits since Kerry Ligtenberg walked all three Cleveland Indians he faced on Aug. 12, 2004.
• Before Monday's Pittsburgh Pirates/Cincinnati Reds game was suspended, the teams combined for 10 home runs in the rainy conditions, six of which were by the visitors. The quirk: They came as three sets of back-to-back jacks, two of those by Neil Walker and Gaby Sanchez. So when was the last time a team had three pairs of back-to-back homers in a game? That's 1977 by the Red Sox (Fred Lynn, Carlton Fisk, and Carl Yastrzemski are in that mix). How many times has it happened in major-league history? Yep, three. The 1956 Reds were the first to do it.
The 10 combined homers also set a Great American Ball Park record.
• In Friday's game with the Rays, the Yankees summoned Cesar Cabral from the bullpen to try and escape an eighth-inning jam. He faced six batters. Three of them got hits, and the other three got hit. Cabral became the first reliever since 2010 to hit three batters in a game, and the previous one was another Yankee-- Javier Vazquez, also against the Rays. Arizona's Joe Kennedy, in 2007, is the only other reliever to do it in the past decade; he was also the last to allow three base hits along with the three hit batsmen.
Although it happens several times a year across the major leagues, Cabral was the first Yankees pitcher to face six or more batters, and not retire any of them, since Steve Howe did it against Cleveland on April 8, 1993.
• The Chicago Cubs' Edwin Jackson pulled off a rare pitching feat on Saturday. After the Cincinnati Reds' Billy Hamilton beat out a bunt single on the first pitch of the inning, Joey Votto hit the next pitch into a double play. The next batter, Brandon Phillips, grounded the first pitch he saw back to Jackson... completing a three-pitch inning. It's the first three-pitch inning of the 2014 season (Jorge De Leon of the Houston Astros recorded one last September, also against the Reds). Randy Wells recorded the last one by a Cubs hurler on July 1, 2011.
The inning in which Jackson threw only three pitches? Yep, the third.