Spectacular outfield catches are becoming everyday stuff.
Seems like it used to be web gems consisted of sliding catches or laying-out dives for the ball, over-the-shoulder grabs, great in-fielding and bullet throws across the diamond,u and occasional head-longs into the box seats to snag a foul ball, a la Derek Jeter. And every once in a great while, someone leaps and takes a home run away from a stunned slugger.
The latter has become common place in the big leagues this season. Every week, and sometimes twice a week, a brilliant catch is made in the outfield, robbing a hitter who is already into his home run trot to first base. The three I saw since the All-Star Game were amazing athletic feats.
The Red Sox Jackie Bradley, Jr., who starred for South Carolina in college, has become perhaps the best centerfielder in baseball. JBJ covers lateral ground like a gazelle and can race in for the sinking liner or track a ball hit over his head. He went into the deepest corner of Fenway Park to leap above the Red Sox bullpen and pull back what the Yankees’ rookie phenom Aaron Judge thought was his 31st homer of the season and his first in the second half.
On consecutive nights this week, dingers were nullified by astounding defensive plays. Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, known more for his home run hitting than stealing, raced to his left and extended over the right field fence to grab a lined shot by the Nationals’ Brian Goodwin before it sailed out of play.
But that was nothing compared to perhaps the best outfield play of this season and maybe one for the annals. This was made by the Indians’ Austin Jackson, who raced back to the same bullpen as Bradley’s theft, skied high into the air to pilfer a certain home run away from Hanley Ramirez, who had to wait for a moment to see the results of his moon shot.
That was because Jackson came down on top of the short railing and flipped into the bullpen, slamming his body to the turf. He stood up and held the ball-in-glove high for everyone to see and for Sports Center to show repeatedly that night and the next day – the best of the rest of web gems so far this sensational season of defense.
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)