While the Indians historic 22-game winning streak ending was garnering all of the headlines on Friday night, the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox were engaged in one of the wildest games of the season.
The AL East rivals played 15 innings before the Red Sox broke through to win 13-6. But the truth is, the game could have been over much earlier if not for the acrobatics and heroics of Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier.
The two-time Gold Glove award winner has made a career out of making defensive highlights, but it’s possible he’s never made a better play than his all-out diving play to rob Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. of a potential game-winning hit in the ninth inning.
Bradley’s drive to left-center field appeared ticketed for the wall, which would have driven in the tying and go-ahead runs. However, Kiermaier was able to cover 104 feet in 5.1 seconds, according to Statcast’s measurements, to make what’s categorized as a five-star catch.
Here’s a little more perspective on the distance Kiermaier traveled:
Kevin Kiermaier's crazy diving catch in the 9th: . Catch prob: 18%. Had to go 101 ft in 5.1 sec. Sprint speed: 30.4 ft/s. Go watch it. pic.twitter.com/u09sBKTRW6
— David Adler (@_dadler) September 16, 2017
The catch had an 18 percent probability, but the effort was one-hundred as Kiermaier sacrificed his body to pull it in.
The five-star catch was Kiermaier’s fourth this season. Only five other outfielders can make the same claim. One inning later, Kiermaier made another fantastic leaping catch at the wall to take away extra bases from Mookie Betts.
The Red Sox ended up tying the game in the ninth inning. In the 14th, they temporarily took the lead. That’s when Kiermaier struck again, cracking a game-tying home run to force a 15th frame.
Obviously, the game didn’t go the Rays’ way in the end, which further damaged their already fading wildcard hopes. But it wasn’t due to lack of effort from Kiermaier. He showed once again why he’s among the game’s elite outfielders.
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