It’s not often that you see catchers featured in highlights for their defense. I mean sure, every now and then you‘ll see a great throw, a diving catch on a failed bunt attempt, a great adjustment on a high popup that plays tricks in the wind, or even a lunging effort into the crowd. It’s just not a frequent happening, and it's even less frequent when you see two of the above happen on the same play.
Enter New York Yankees catcher Chris Stewart. During Saturday's 5-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox, he made one of those rare two for one plays, and it was truly spectacular.
I'll break it down into two parts.
Part 1: With a runner on first and one out in the eighth inning, Dustin Pedroia skies a high pop foul behind home plate that sails just enough towards the third base dugout that it eludes the safety — or not so safe — netting. Stewart stays with the ball the entire way, and then tosses his mask at the last possible second before diving — yes, literally diving — into the first row of seats to make the catch.
That part alone: Fantastic.
Part 2: After digging his way out of the abyss, Stewart sees that the runner, Daniel Nava, has tagged up and wants to take advantage of the situation by moving into scoring position. Actually it's not a bad idea when you think about it. Between freeing himself, setting his feet and making at least a one-hundred foot throw a unique angle, Stewart's odds for cutting him down didn't seem all that good. But the problem for Nava was, Stewart actually did all of those things perfectly and ended up nabbing him by several feet.
That's a rare 2-6 inning-ending double play that wasn't a strik'em out, throw'em out. It was a straight up defensive gem, followed almost immediately by another defensive gem.
It was also a potential rally killer with David Ortiz set to hit next as the tying run.
Quite simply, it was one of the best all around defensive plays we've seen all season.