Playing his first game in center field ever, Brock Holt of the Boston Red Sox somehow came up with one of the best catches you'll see all season — on a ball that wasn't even hit to him.
Backing up the play when it became obvious to him that Jonny Gomes had lost track of a fly ball hit to left at dusk in the third inning, Holt raced over and made a spectacular diving catch that saved his teammate's bacon. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal estimated that Holt ran about 30 yards to make the catch. Holt admitted later he actually ran to the wrong spot — that's why he had to reach for the ball (and possibly dive) — so he's still got to work on the details. But, hallelujah, what a catch.
Just makes you want to scream: "BROCK HOLT!"
Red Sox coach Arnie Beyeler and Gomes had talked to Holt about acting as a safety valve on balls hit to left field. Not only because left is tough at Fenway Park due to the 37-foot-high Green Monster, but also because of the twilight. He remembered.
Holt, who recently played his first game as a professional in the outfield, was pressed into duty in center after the team designated Grady Sizemore for assignment earlier in the day. Jackie Bradley Jr., the team's usual center fielder, has a hamstring injury. Holt also scored twice for the Red Sox in a 2-1 victory against the Minnesota Twins. But it was Holt's catch to prevent a double or better by Minnesota's Brian Dozier that had people talking. Via the Projo:
“Great play,” Dustin Pedroia said.
“Awesome,” Burke Badenhop said.
“He made an incredible catch,” Stephen Drew said.
If picking up and tracking a baseball in the roof of Tropicana Field or the old Metrodome was the most difficult task for a defender, the light blue-gray of a June twilight is a close second.
“It’s a tough twilight now with the blue sky, starting to get the sunset,” Gomes said. “From about the third inning to the fifth inning, if you look at the sky, it’s the exact same color as the ball — kind of an off-white.”
The Red Sox, at 33-38 and 7 1/2 games behind first place in the AL East, are not having a season anything like their World Series experience of 2013. They're just hanging on right now. It's hard to imagine they'd even be this close to the playoff hunt without Holt. Not only is he batting .333/.375/.456 in 161 plate appearances, but he has played five positions. Holt came into the season with 50 combined games played in stints with the Red Sox and Pirates in 2012 and 2013, but without much of a hint that he could be so useful.
Jon Lester is a fan, but he didn't think Holt would make it to Dozier's pop up.
''It seems like Brock at some point in each game has an effect on what's going on,'' Lester, who weathered a shaky start and pitched six-plus strong innings. ''I'm sure we'll see him with catcher's gear or on the mound at some point this year. The guy's done an unbelievable job.''
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