Saturday, June 18, 2011
Defensive gems spark Rangers
By Richard Durrett
ATLANTA -- Ian Kinsler was animated as he described the three memorable defensive plays of Friday's 6-2 win over the Braves.
"We're the Texas Globetrotters," Kinsler said. "As long as we get the outs, we can live with that [nickname]."
The Rangers executed three highlight-worthy plays on defense Friday.
All three plays happened in successive innings, starting with "The Flip" in the fifth. Colby Lewis knew he had no shot to get Jason Heyward unless he took a swipe at the ball and tried to fling it toward first baseman Michael Young. Lewis didn't even squeeze his glove, just sweeping the ball off the grass and into the air. Young was able to reach out and grab it.
"That was a crazy, crazy play," Kinsler said. "He's got a big pitcher's glove. It's not like the ball is coming out very easy. He just flung it right at Mike pretty easy looking. He played it off like it was no big dealb too."
Lewis said he had a play like that a few years ago in Japan, so it wasn't the first time he tried it. (Of course, he wasn't doing that during PFP -- pitcher's fielding practice -- in spring training.)
"I knew if I missed that nobody was going to advance because nobody was on base," Lewis said. "It was only of those shots you take and it worked out."
One inning later, Adrian Beltre got in the mix. With one on and one out in a 5-2 game, Eric Hinske hit a fly ball in shallow right field down the line. Beltre made an all-out sprint for the ball (as fast as he can go playing through some nicks and bruises) and caught it on a full run over his shoulder just as he stepped in foul territory.
"I didn't think he had a chance," Kinsler said. "When it's hit, I'm thinking to myself, 'Dang, baserunner. It's going to drop in.' Then I'm watching it and thinking, 'Maybe it will go foul. I don't know why he's even running after it.' But somehow he got under it and was able to make a catch right there. That's impressive."
With two outs in the seventh, Beltre got to a sharply hit ground ball and immediately threw it to second in hopes of getting a force out to end the inning. But Kinsler caught the ball and wasn't close enough to the bag to get Jordan Schafer. So he threw to first instead and still managed to get the speedy Heyward. It's scored as a 5-4-3 putout -- something you usually see when a double play is made.
"He's supposed to go first or throw it to Elvis," Kinsler said. "Honestly, we all should have communicated that before the play. But we know each other pretty well and normally that's something that's not going to happen. That was a fluke play.
"There was no way I could beat the guy to second. I knew that. I knew I had to get rid of it. It's my first and only chance at an out. I thought I'd give it a go and it beat him there. ... A lot of things went right tonight and went in the right direction and hopefully this turns things around and we can kind of get back on track."