Texas Rangers: Web Gems
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Elvis Andrus's defense hit a slight bump against Oakland with two errors in two games.
He made up for it with a game-saving, over-the-shoulder catch in the fifth inning of Wednesday's 3-1 victory over the A's at Rangers Ballpark.
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Ross Wolf was able to get another popup to Andrus and a groundout to first base to get out of the jam, lining him up for his first major league win.
The 30-year-old Wolf, who hadn't pitched in the big leagues since 2010, wasn't lost on the meaning of the catch.
"It was awesome," Wolf said. "I didn't see it until I saw the replay."
Andrus, who had made one error in 45 games, made one on a ground ball that just beat him on Tuesday and on a missed flip on a throw trying to start a double play Wednesday.
Nobody remembered either mishap after Andrus' spectacular play.
“Every time someone hits a ball around me, I think I can get it,” Andrus said. “I was really happy I could make that play.”
The four-time Gold Glove winner was at it again in Tuesday's 6-3 loss, making one of his best plays in his Rangers career for the final out of third inning.
Beltre went to his backhand to stop Yuniesky Betancourt's ground ball, then made a throw from the grass as he went toward the third-base dugout. Beltre's throw one-hopped into the glove of first baseman Mitch Moreland and beat Betancourt easily.
There was a runner-up. Center fielder Leonys Martin gets a shout out for throwing Jean Segura out at the plate in Wednesday's game. Aramis Ramirez hit a two-out single up the middle and Segura was running on the pitch, but Martin delivered a perfect throw home.
Granted, Segura did a poor job of base running and seemed to slow down before sliding into home. Still, Martin threw a perfect strike and catcher Geovany Soto made the tag for the third out of the inning.
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Kinsler's web gem drew a salute from Rangers manager Ron Washington from the dugout.
"It was a very sharp play," Washington said. "He made it as perfectly as you can make it. That's when I saluted him, because it was perfect. That was the only way he could do it, catch it and get rid of it and whatever happens, happens."
Typically, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, with his tremendous range, would have made the play, Kinsler said. But Andrus had fouled a ball off his calf earlier in the game. Andrus said that he was having trouble moving to his left as the game went on Tuesday night.
"It was funny, before that play he told me, 'Make sure that I get everything up the middle,'" Kinsler said. "So I went at it a little more aggressively than I normally do thinking that he normally has that ball. It turned out good."
Both made spectacular bare-handed plays in the last week that can easily be taken for granted.
Andrus' bare-handed play in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels came on a high chopper by Mark Trumbo for the second out of the inning. Andrus positioned his body perfectly to field the ball with his right hand and make the throw in one motion. He was shaking his hand for several seconds after the play. The Rangers went on to win 5-4.
Darvish made his play in his start against the Seattle Mariners last Friday. With the Mariners' Endy Chavez trying to bunt for a hit, Darvish bolted off the mound and fielded the ball near the third base line and whipped a throw to first base to nip the speedy Seattle center fielder. Darvish looked like Andrus making a throw from shortstop. Darvish ended up the winning pitcher as the Rangers beat the Mariners 5-0.
The Rangers are off to a strong start defensively, ranking fifth in baseball with a .900 team fielding percentage.
"We've played pretty well," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "Elvis is growing up. Beltre is a two-time platinum Gold Glove winner. I'd like to think I'm a good defensive player. Mitch is a very solid first baseman. It's no surprise to us. We believe that we're very good defensively. I guess we just have to prove it."
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"It was certainly the biggest catch of this year," Rangers manager Ron Washington said Tuesday night after the game. "Saved the game for us."
Gentry's catch was amazing on many fronts -- degree of difficulty, the risk/reward involved -- and it kept the Rangers from a blowing a four-run ninth-inning lead after getting down to the last strike on five consecutive Cubs hitters.
Let's start with the degree of difficulty involved. Gentry got an exceptional jump on the sinking liner off the bat of the Cubs' Darwin Barney. That gave Gentry a chance. Still, the ball was tailing away from Gentry, and that's where his speed closed the gap.
"To get that final out was a little tough for us," Gentry said. "But luckily I was able to get a good jump on it and catch it. It was a big sense of relief."
There was also the risk-reward involved. If Gentry had made a dive and missed and the ball had gotten past him, it may well have cleared the bases (Cubs catcher Welington Castillo was running from first and might not have scored). If he pulls up and let's the ball drop, at worst it ties the game and the Rangers are headed to extra innings.
"He has to go right there; that’s one of the times when you dive and you have to," Washington said. "You just got to. It gets by you, that’s the way it is."
Gentry gave the diving catch high marks. It kept closer Joe Nathan from blowing a save and the Rangers from suffering one of their worst losses in recent memory.
"In the situation, it’s definitely a big catch, it ends the game right there," Gentry said. "If that ball drops we’re probably still playing right now. Given the situation, it’s probably a top five or six (all-time catch for me)."
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It also set Twitter ablaze with tweets from fans who are still not over the fly ball that got over Cruz's head in the 2011 World Series.
Cruz's catch Monday was sensational. With a runner at second and one out in a 1-1 game, he made a leaping catch with his back toward home plate, banging into the right-field wall and taking a double and an RBI away from James Loney. Alexi Ogando was able to get out of the inning with the game still tied, and the Rangers took a 3-1 lead on home runs by A.J. Pierzynski and Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the fourth.
Loney's fly ball was eerily similar to David Freese's in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. Cruz came within inches of catching that ball with the Rangers needing an out for their first World Series title, but instead it went for a two-run triple that tied Game 6 at 7-7. The Cardinals went on to win Game 6 in extra innings and Game 7, as well.
Arguments have persisted since then over whether Cruz should have been able to make the Game 6 catch.
But there's no arguing that Cruz, off to a hot start at the plate, made a great catch -- a web gem -- Monday against the Rays.
You can't blame us for having a smaller sampling size to pick our winner -- for a few reasons.
First, there were only three games to choose from, instead of six or seven. Also, there were fewer opportunities for spectacular defensive plays as Rangers pitchers struck out 43 batters in three games against the Houston Astros.
That being said, first baseman Mitch Moreland made a difficult play look easy during the fifth inning of Yu Darvish's perfect game bid on Tuesday.
Astros designated hitter Rick Ankiel pulled a soft line drive to first base. From behind home plate, it looked like a sure hit, but the ball seemed to die and Moreland was able to quickly move to his right and leap to catch it. Watching in slow motion, Moreland did get off the ground and extend for the catch.
"Hey, that was some ups," Moreland said, smiling.
It would have been a play to remember had Darvish finished the perfect game. Maybe not in the same mold as Rusty Greer's diving catch to preserve Kenny Rogers' 1994 perfect game, but a good one.
"I had to move a little bit, but he didn't hit it very well," Moreland said. "I don't know if he either got jammed or hit it off the end of the bat, but I was able to get to it. It just kind of died off the bat."
And into Moreland's glove.
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