Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Byrd's spectacular defensive play propels NL to victory

This year's MLB All-Star Game didn't feature much offense -- the NL won 3-1 -- but in a game with plenty of great pitching performances, one huge defensive play may have saved the game for the National League.

With a runner on first (David Ortiz) and one out in the bottom of the ninth and closer Jonathan Broxton in to protect a 3-1 lead, John Buck hit a fly ball to shallow right field that dropped in for a hit. Ortiz, who won't be confused with Juan Pierre anytime soon, isn't light on his feet by any stretch of the imagination (though he's probably got more speed than Matt Wieters), but he basically stayed halfway between first and second -- the right move since it seemed like the ball had a chance of being caught -- before making sure that the ball dropped in and hightailing it to second base.

In most games, Buck's blooper would be a base hit, and the American League would have had runners on first and second with one out. But in most games, Marlon Byrd wouldn't be playing in right field. On the play, Byrd charged the ball hard but realized he wouldn't be able to get to it. Instead of diving and risking giving up a huge play, Byrd, in one rapid motion, played the ball off to his left, snagged the ball with his glove, transferred the ball to his hand while spinning towards the right field line, and fired a rocket on one hop to second base to nab Ortiz. (Watch the amazing play here.)

I've watched the replay maybe 15 times, and I still can't believe that Byrd made that play. Maybe the play isn't as impressive since Ortiz was running instead of a faster runner, but I disagree. And the AL still may not have won the game if Byrd didn't make that play, but Buck's potential single would have given them the tying run on first and Ian Kinsler at the plate -- a completely different situation than just a runner on first and two outs.

Anyway, watch the play and recognize the degree of difficulty for Byrd. I believe it may be one of the all-time best defensive plays in All-Star Game history. What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment