Gomes, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the 13th inning, made an incredibly rare unassisted double play in left field to save the game in the 15th. The Mariners had runners on first and second with one out when outfielder Michael Saunders slashed a sinking line drive to left. Gomes made a great diving catch and then stood up and jogged to second to double off Raul Ibanez.
Gomes certainly isn’t the most talented player on Boston’s roster, but he has been incredibly clutch this season. He has three pinch-hit homers — including a walk-off bomb — and consistently comes up with plays when the Red Sox need them. Thursday night was a perfect example, and it allowed the Sox to take back first place in the AL East from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Forget Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941. Enough about Barry Bonds’ 73 home runs in a single season. Baseball has a new untouchable record, and this one was set in the stands rather than on the diamond.
On Sunday, a Cleveland Indians named Greg Van Niel caught four foul balls in a single game. That’s right, four. Van Niel and his family sat on the third base line at Progressive Field during Cleveland’s win over the Kansas City Royals. And if you’re going to be a grown man wearing a glove to the ballpark, you might as well make history.
“Three of them were catches and one was a ball I picked up off the ground,” Van Niel told MLB.com’s Cut 4. “The third one, I think was the hardest one … I ended up sprawled across a few rows, and I got some cheese on myself. But the other ones were just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.”
Van Niel also noted that it was the first time he ever snagged a foul ball at Progressive Field. Do we actually know if catching four foul balls in a game is a record? No, and I don’t believe there are records kept for feats like that. What we do know is that it was amazing when that guy caught back-to-back homers and that other fan grabbed three foul balls in a single game. Four is just legendary.
- Amazing plays
For a few seconds on Monday night, it looked as though Joey Votto may have launched a two-run home run to put the Cincinnati Reds up 5-4 over the Milwaukee Brewers in the top of the ninth inning. Carlos Gomez got in the way.
The Brewers center fielder timed his jump perfectly and robbed Votto of a home run, saving the game for Milwaukee and closer Francisco Rodriguez. Robbing a home run is exhilarating enough, but Gomez said taking one away to save the game is just as great a feeling as a walk-off hit.
“When you save the game like that or when you hit a walk-off home run, it’s amazing,” Gomez said, per the Associated Press. “I never hit one, but I steal home run to win the game. It’s something special, like you can’t wait to get home to see it over and over.”
Votto could do nothing but tip his cap.
“The whole thing is really a random occurrence and it’s what makes baseball so special,” the Reds slugger said. “Carlos has had a fantastic year this year. Today he didn’t have a good game offensively and he goes out and makes a game-changing play on the defensive end. You know, I did everything I could, and he made a great play.”
Gomez’s amazing play wasn’t the first game-saving catch we have seen this year, but it very well could wind up being the best.
H/T Big League Stew
San Diego Padres outfielder Will Venable made the catch of the year at a crucial time during his team’s win over the San Francisco Giants on Monday night. With two outs and a runner on second, Juan Perez stung a ball to center field that looked like it was going to get over Venable’s head for a walk-off hit. The 30-year-old outfielder had other plans.
Venable went full extension and dove onto the warning track to make an amazing catch. The Padres went on to score two runs in the top of the 13th and win the game.
The grab was similar to the one this Minnesota Twins minor leaguer made last week, only Venable’s incredible play saved the game in the 12th inning. For that, he currently holds the crown for “Catch of the Year.”
Baltimore Orioles shortstop JJ Hardy cannot catch a break when his team hosts the Los Angeles Angels. No matter who is playing center field for LA, Hardy can’t seem to put enough power behind the ball to get it over the fence. When you face outfielders with the defensive ability of Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout, that can happen.
During the first inning of his team’s 3-2 win over the Angels on Tuesday, Hardy smoked a ball to center field that looked like it had enough to leave the yard. Instead, Bourjos timed his jump perfectly and reached completely over the fence to pull the ball back in.
The play was amazing, but the situation was even more mind-boggling. Almost exactly a year ago, on June 28, Trout was playing center field in Baltimore when he took a home run away from Hardy. To make the coincidence even more incredible, that play also took place in the bottom of the first inning.
Moral of the story: hit the ball to right field. Josh Hamilton is a decent fielder, but Hardy clearly doesn’t have a chance against Bourjos or Trout.
Buxton, the center fielder for the low Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels, made a diving catch on the warning track to rob Kane County’s David Boke of an extra-base hit during the top of the second inning of his team’s 6-2 win on Monday. Buxton also reportedly made another great catch in the first inning.
In addition to his amazing defense, Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, went 3-for-4 with a double, triple, and 3 RBIs. He is now batting .350/.444/.578 through 58 games with the Kernels, which leads the Midwest League in all three categories.
Buxton is battling Miguel Sano for the billing of top prospect in the Twins’ organization. Between the two of them, I’m thinking the rebuilding process in Minnesota won’t be so bad.
Check out some more amazing plays we have shown you this season.
Forearm bash to Baseball America
The throw to home plate from the outfield was right on target and it appeared Farnham would be able to get the tag down in time. Beckham slipped it by executing a backdoor slide, only his hand came nowhere close to touching the plate. He then sprung up, danced around Beckham and dove at the plate. Farnham probably didn’t even have enough time to process what had happened, and who can blame him?
Beckham’s run may not have been quite as impressive as this amazing game-winning slide or that hurdle we showed you from a high school game last week, but you will probably never see anything like it again. Durham went on to win 8-4.