The Oakland A's couldn't put enough offense together against Ubaldo Jimenez and the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night, but they did flash a little leather in their 7-1 loss. Or should I say, shortstop Eric Sogard flashed some leather, particularly in the eighth inning.
In a matter of three batters — and only nine pitches — Sogard retired the Indians single-handledly, and he did so with three separate defensive plays that are all worthy of making the highlight reel.
The first of the bunch was easily the best, and with respects to Andrelton Simmons, perhaps the defensive play of the night all around Major League Baseball. With Sogard playing on the second baseman's side of the bag due to Oakland applying the shift on Carlos Santana, he was forced to range back up the middle to flag down an absolute laser of a line drive. Incredibly, Sogard was able to make the play, but only after completely selling out with a dive.
That got an appreciative hand from relief pitch Jesse Chavez.
The second out required Sogard to show off his range. After Michael Brantley hit a high popup to left field that carried towards the foul line, Sogard raced from his shortstop position and was able to get the angle on the ball to make a very difficult grab look relatively easy. I actually think it's one of those plays you can't fully appreciate unless you're in the stadium and have a better perspective of the ground he needed to cover.
The third out was another play with a high degree of difficulty. Like Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a slicing line drive back towards the middle, only this one had some height on it. Sogard, though, was able to time his leap perfectly, and at his peak reeled to the ball to complete his trifecta of gems.
It was the type of defensive inning a player will have only once, if ever, in his career. I mean sure, one player recording all three outs happens frequently, but not three plays like that. Had any or all of them hit the turf, no one would have been disappointed or surprised that Sogard couldn't make the play. Certainly it took a little luck to be in good position, but finishing those plays was all about effort on Sogard's part.