I could explain it but this does a whole lot better. Good thing it happened. The last time it happened it was Brian Schneider getting caught.
MIAMI -- Acting just may be in the futures of Mike Lowell and Todd Jones.
Lowell certainly pulled off an Academy Award performance Wednesday night, executing a well-conceived hidden-ball trick that ultimately preserved a pivotal game for the Marlins.
Lowell had a two-run double and used one of the oldest tricks in the book to help the Marlins hold off the Diamondbacks, 10-5, at Dolphins Stadium.
While the Marlins broke the game open with four runs in the eighth, the real drama was in the top of the inning when the Diamondbacks threatened to knot the score at 6. But their bid to tie it was thwarted when Lowell slapped a tag on an unsuspecting Luis Terrero at third base, pulling off the hidden-ball trick.
"There was plenty of hitting, good pitching by the kid [starter Jason] Vargas, but the key to the game, I thought, was Mike Lowell's hidden-ball trick," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said.
After seeing their 6-1 deficit trimmed to one run in the seventh inning, the Diamondbacks threatened off Jones in the eighth inning. Terrero opened the eighth with a bunt single, and after he went to second on a sacrifice bunt, pinch-hitter Tony Clark singled, putting runners on first and third.
Terrero was held at third as Lowell received the cutoff from left fielder Miguel Cabrera. Detecting that Terrero and third base coach Carlos Tosca were not watching, Lowell figured he would try catching the Diamondbacks napping.
To execute the sandlot play, the pitcher has to be off the mound, and Jones was. For his performance, Jones was a strong supporting actor, doing his best to sell the play, stalling slightly behind the mound, picking up the rosin bag, motioning to catcher Matt Treanor.
As Jones stayed clear of the mound, Terrero took a few steps off third, and then Lowell slapped on the tag. Third base umpire Ed Rapuano, well aware of what was going on, immediately pumped out Terrero.
"Everything stayed true," said Lowell of the turning point play. "It worked out perfect by total accident, choice, whatever you want to say. I just started walking. I'm not going to talk to [Terrero]. I'm not going to try to milk them, and ask them what kind of shoe you wear, or anything like that. If he gets off, that's his choice."
Added Jones: "I knew I couldn't go anywhere near the dirt. I could go near it, but I couldn't touch it. It was like one of those Venus Fly Traps, and he walked into it.
"That's the coolest thing I've done on the field in a while."
Sitting in his seats by the Florida dugout, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria had an "inkling" that Lowell was orchestrating the trick play.
"I never saw the ball go to the pitcher," he said.
The key was the Diamondbacks presumed it did.
The last time the hidden-ball trick was executed perfectly was, coincidently, by Lowell on Sept. 15, 2004, also in Miami. That day, the third baseman caught Brian Schneider of the Expos off third base. On that play, Lowell had the ball flipped to him by shortstop Alex Gonzalez.
"I didn't get the ball right away, so I'm looking around, and you start playing process of elimination," Jones said of trying to figure out what was going on. "You're thinking, Gonzo doesn't have it, so Mikey must have it. He wants me not to get on the mound and try to play hidden-ball. So I'm walking around. At that point, I'm trying to sell it. Just make it looking like I'm not sitting there, so I'm talking to Matt."
Jones said he had about 10-15 seconds to bluff that he had the ball.
"I saw the ball come in," Tosca said. "I saw him flip the ball to him. Now we've got first-and-third and we got a guy up that I know we can squeeze with, we can hit-and-run with and I went to get the sign and I came back to the base and I kind of thought it was strange [Lowell] was hanging around there.
"At the same time, those guys hang around there listening for a squeeze sign or whatever. So I tried to carry as much conversation as I could with Luis. I didn't anticipate him coming off the bag with the pitcher off the back of the rubber, but the ultimate responsibility comes down to me. That's part of my job description."
Marlins reliever Ron Villone said he was totally shocked when Terrero was out.
"He may get a lead role in a commercial or something," Villone said of Lowell's acting ability.
Inspired by the trick play, Jones then struck out Craig Counsell to end the inning.
The Marlins added four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, highlighted by Gonzalez's three-run double. Jones completed a perfect ninth for his 24th save, and first two-inning save since June 15, 1996, at San Francisco. He was then with the Astros.
The Marlins went ahead early thanks to Cabrera's two-run homer in the third inning that made it 3-0. Juan Pierre reached on a bunt single to start the inning, and with one out, Arizona starter Brad Halsey (8-8) was pitching the All-Star outfielder carefully. While the left-hander's 2-2 offering was low, Cabrera went down and connected on a shot to left, estimated at 421 feet.
It was a struggle to go five innings for Vargas (3-0), but the rookie left-hander grinded out 111 pitches and gave up one run on four hits. He walked two, with one intentional, and struck out five. Halsey gave up six runs on eight hits in five innings, taking the loss.
"Not too much was going well," Vargas said. "I got behind on a lot of counts. They took me deep in a lot of counts. I was having to grind out there a lot. I got out of there with one run in the fifth, and I was real pleased to get out of there with that."
A three-run fifth inning put the Marlins ahead, 6-1. With two outs, Jeff Conine had an RBI single, and after Gonzalez's double put runners on second and third, Lowell stroked a two-run double down the left-field line.
But the Diamondbacks responded with four runs in the seventh inning. Villone walked three straight batters with one out, and Guillermo Mota then inherited a bases-loaded situation. Troy Glaus belted a three-run double that bounced on the warning track at the 434-foot mark in center. A wild pitch moved Glaus to third and he scored on Shawn Green's sacrifice fly to left.