On the same day he was named to his second All-Star team, Jay Bruce had an embarrassing blunder worthy of a Little Leaguer.
The Cincinnati Reds outfielder, known almost as much for his solid play in right field as he is for his powerful bat, handed a win to the San Francisco Giants on Sunday and earned the game-changing moment of the week in the process.
In the final game of a four-game series, the Reds rallied to tie the Giants 3-3 in the top of the ninth. In the bottom half of the inning, Reds reliever Jose Arredondo got two quick outs before Buster Posey hit a ground rule double and Pablo Sandoval was intentionally walked.
That brought Angel Pagan to the plate. The crowd let out a collective sigh as Pagan sent a 3-1 pitch to right field that clearly wasn't going to be deep enough. But Bruce tracked the ball to the warning track then inexplicably stopped at the track and leapt for the ball. He missed.
The ball sailed over Bruce's head, Posey scored from second and Pagan was credited with a walk-off "double" in the 4-3 win.
"It got in the wind a little bit, but I was just not as close to the wall as I thought I was and missed it," Bruce said after the game. "It's really, really embarrassing.
"I missed it. It should be an error. It's not, but it definitely should be. I pride myself on my defense and that was just embarrassing."
Pagan was just as surprised by his game-winning hit.
"I looked at it and I thought, 'I don't think I have a chance,'" Pagan said. "I thought he caught it. Then I heard the crowd cheer and I went nuts. It was a weird walk-off."
The Giants win kept them in first place in the National League West, one game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Reds still held a one-game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates – yes, the Pirates – in the NL Central heading into Monday's play.
Bruce may not live this one down for a while but at least can take comfort in his second consecutive All-Star Game appearance. Bruce, who leads the Reds in home runs (17) and RBIs (54), was a players' vote selection. He made his first All-Star Game appearance last season and struck out in his only at-bat.
The Giants' win wasn't the only bizarre walk-off win on Sunday. The Milwaukee Brewers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 2-1 thanks to two throwing errors on the same play in the bottom of the ninth.
Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Carlos Marmol finally got his closing job back, and he's showing that he intends to keep it.
Marmol pitched 3.2 near-perfect innings last week and earned four saves for the last-place Cubs. He struck out seven batters, gave up just one hit and is now 6-for-6 in save opportunities in his last nine outings.
Earlier in the season he lost his closing job then spent time on disabled list. Thanks to his strong effort last week, the Cubs have won five of six games through Sunday.