PITTSBURGH -- A relatively mundane, inconsequential and totally overlooked play in the Pirates' 3-1 Wednesday night victory over the Brewers was hailed by multiple team veterans as one of the best they had ever witnessed.
With the Pirates leading 2-1 and one out in the top of the eighth, a filthy two-strike curveball from Mark Melancon befuddled both the Brewers' Jean Segura, who swung hopelessly through it, and catcher Russell Martin, as the ball bounced off his right shinguard and traveled 20 feet to his left. Segura, representing the tying run, took off for first base.
Martin leapt out of his crouch, pounced after the ball, picked it up, spun and blindly threw toward first base with such force that he wound up face-planting in the grass.
The throw was spot on to Gaby Sanchez to retire Segura.
"As good a play as I've ever seen a catcher make," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "Martin's play is out of this world. That's a fantastic play. To throw a fast runner out on a ball that travels and had distance that he had to go get. And he slipped and still got enough on the throw to make that play. Awesome."
"That was one of most athletic plays I've ever seen. As far as blocking the pitch, getting up, recovering the ball and getting a guy who runs very well. That's a lot better than I was at catcher, I can tell you that," said Neil Walker, who was drafted as a catcher and broke into pro ball playing the position.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less