Morin, like any other pitcher, is considered almost a nuisance on defense. He was taught to stay out of the way on pop ups like the one Jason Castro of the Houston Astros hit in the top of the eighth inning. Watch the video and notice that Morin has more or less recused himself and gotten clear of catcher Hank Conger as he settled under Castro's pop. Morin is squatting in front of the pitcher's mound when apparent disaster strikes, and first baseman C.J. Cron bumps Conger as he's squeezing the ball, which pops loose.
With Cron tripping backward and Conger unable to recover, the only person who can clean up the mess is Morin, who dives to his left and cleanly catches the rebound before it hits the ground. Inning over. Otherwise, the Astros — who trailed by three runs at the time — might have gotten a miracle rally going. Instead, the Angels win 6-1 in support of Garrett Richards.
Check out this sequence:
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The best reaction might have been by infielder John McDonald:
Morin's ERA dropped to 2.01 and he secured his fourth hold, for whatever that's worth. But Morin's catch was the thing. Even though it was his ball, Conger blamed himself a little for the mixup — and was funny about Morin's role in saving the moment:
''When it first went up into that tough sky, I just kept drifting and started creeping back a bit more than I should have,'' Conger said. ''Then I kind of heard C.J. at the last minute. I felt like I fell into a brick wall. I don't like to give pitchers too much respect, fielding-wise, but I told Mike: 'Nice catch.'''
The Angels are 15 games over .500 overall and are 21-3 at home since May 17. They're among the three best teams in the American League, and alert teamwork like that shown by Morin is among the reasons why.
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