Game Three and Game Four of the 2013 World Series had some really, really unusual final plays. For this week's Top Five weird finishes to Timber Rattlers games since 2000. I didn't realize the name Leury Bonilla would show up on this list as much as it did.
5.) August 2, 2007 - First up, Bonilla almost kills himself in Dayton. It's the bottom of the ninth inning. The game is tied, but the Dragons have two on with one out and Keltavious Jones at the plate. Jones lines a pitch to deep right. Bonilla went back to the track, lunged for the ball, got a glove on it, and crashed headfirst into the wall, a plexiglass LED screen. The Rattlers team went out to the warning track to check on Bonilla as the Dragons celebrated on the field. Bonilla was down for a long time, but eventually made it up on his feet. Scary play.
4.) August 4, 2007 - So, of course, two days after that finish in Dayton, Bonilla is called on to pitch with the game on the line in Fort Wayne. He played every position except centerfield during the 2007 season. Wisconsin's bullpen was gassed and there was no one left to put on the mound in the bottom of the twelfth inning as the Wizards had scored a run off Keith Renaud with two outs to cut Wisconsin's lead to a single run. Renaud had tossed 4-1/3 innings of relief, but his pitch count was way up there and the only choice was Bonilla, who balked on his first pitch to send the tying run into scoring position. Then, he struck out the batter he came into the game to the game to face and the Timber Rattlers held on with a position player picking up the save. No, really.
3.) June 1, 2005 - Craig James was the Wisconsin closer in 2005. In this game, he entered with the scored tied 3-3 at Cedar Rapids. The first two batters reached base in that inning, but James struck out the next two batters. James got the next batter to send an easy grounder to short for what would be the final out of the frame and the Rattlers would be hitting in the top of the eleventh. But, the ball hit a pebble in the basepath and bounded over the head of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. The ball wound up in left-center as the winning run scored for the Kernels.
2.) May 4, 2001 - The Timber Rattlers and the Clinton LumberKings were in a scoreless tie in the bottom of the seventh during game one of a doubleheader in Grand Chute. Wisconsin had the bases loaded with two outs and Guillermo "Bill" Martinez is at the plate and reliever Antonio Garris has come into the game to face Martinez. Garris gets a called strike two on Martinez when catcher Drew McMillan decides that he can throw to first and pickoff the runner for the final out of the inning. McMillan's throw sailed down the line in right and the winning run scored from third on the play.
1.) April 30, 2007 - Backstory: Before the 2007 began, Minor League Baseball tried to initiate some policies that would speed the game. Umpires, players, and coaches were informed before the start of the season that if a batter needed a little time between pitches, they could only move one foot out of the batter's box. If a batter walked completely outside the box with both feet, a strike would be called. Now, let's fast forward to the bottom of the ninth inning at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium in late April of 2007. Leury Bonilla, who had homered in the bottom of the seventh inning off Dragons reliever Pedro Viola, stepped to the plate with Wisconsin trailing 3-1. Bonilla was the tying run in the bottom of the ninth due to Ogui Diaz reaching first on a two-out error on Dayton third baseman Juan Francisco. Bonilla was down in the count 0-1 to start. Plate umpire Alex Ortiz called the next pitch from Viola a strike to run the count to 0-2. Bonilla thought it the pitch should have been called a ball. He decided to collect himself instead of saying anything to Ortiz. Unfortunately, Bonilla took a couple of steps out of the right-handed batter's box as he walked up the third base line. Ortiz immediately called a strike on Bonilla. That strike just happened to be strike three. The final out of the game came on a called third strike that was never even thrown to the plate. That is #1 on any list.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.