Catch, Save, and a Beauty: Top 10 Game-Saving Catches in Baseball
Salvation. There's no better feeling than knowing you are safe.
In the game of baseball, a save is usually rewarded to the closing pitcher who shuts down the offense in the final inning to secure a victory for their team.
But in reality, it takes nine players to win a baseball game. And there's no better feeling for a pitcher than to see his teammate go all-out for him to win.
Whether it be diving to catch a fly ball or scaling the wall to rob a home run, outfielders sometimes make the most unbelievable catches a fan can witness.
I have rounded up 10 of the best catches I can remember as a baseball fan.
No. 10: Carlos Gomez Robs Miguel Cairo
This catch ruined my birthday.
The date was June 15, 2007. I was extremely excited to be able to attend my first first Subway Series game in five years. As a die-hard Yankee fan, I was hoping the Yanks would pull out a win for me on my 20th birthday.
With the Yankees down 2-0, Miguel Cairo (of all players) crushed a long fly ball deep to left field in the bottom of the fourth.
Carlos Gomez leapt for the ball and snatched it, robbing Cairo and the Yankees of two runs.
To make matters worse, Gomez gunned the ball back in to double up Hideki Matsui and end the inning.
It was the worst feeling as a Yankee fan, but I have to give Gomez credit. It was a great catch, and it saved the game for the Mets.
As a Yankee fan it was horrible to watch them lose on my birthday, but the Yankees took the next two games from the Mets that weekend and thankfully won the series against their cross-town rivals.
No. 9: Felix Jose Robs Robin Yount
Fans may or may not remember Felix Jose.
He played 11 seasons in the majors with not many career highlights. Probably his most notable accomplishment was being selected to the National League All Star team in 1991.
But on July 15, 1990 as a member of the Oakland Athletics, Jose took a home run away from Robin Yount.
If it wasn't enough to just rob a future Hall of Famer of a round-tripper, Jose came up to bat later in the game and crushed a grand slam home run.
The A's beat the Milwaukee Brewers that day, 4-1.
Aside from making the All Star team a year later, this had to be the highlight of his career.
No. 8: Melky Cabrera Robs Manny Ramirez
I remember this like it was yesterday.
Think about it: Yankee Stadium, Yankees vs. Red Sox, and the Bronx Bombers up 2-1 in the top of the eighth inning. Talk about a good game.
Manny Ramirez smacked a long, fly ball deep to left field. Uh oh...
But Melky Cabrera made a leap of the wall and brought the ball back into the park to save the game. He was just a rookie, but he became a Yankee when he made this play.
There were two reactions I'll never forget about this catch, the first being the reaction of pitcher Kyle Farnsworth. If you watch him closely and read his lips, he said, "Holy (Expletive)"
The second reaction was that of Ramirez, who smiled and threw his hands forward as if to say, "whatever."
Cabrera saved everyone the night of June 6, 2006. The Yankees won the game, 2-1.
No. 7: Torii Hunter Robs Miguel Olivo
Torii Hunter has become probably the best at what he does in center field.
On May 10 of this year he proved it.
In the top of the ninth and the Angels leading 4-3, Miguel Olivo of the Kansas City Royals clubbed a pitch to deep center off closer Brian Fuentes.
Hunter showcased his defensive prowess as he jumped for the ball and stole a game-tying homer away from the Royals.
Because of Hunter's web gem, the Angels went on to win the game.
No. 6: Reed Johnson Robs Prince Fielder
If Reed Johnson had not made this catch, the damage would have been a lot worse than it was.
On Apr. 12 of this year, Johnson made one of the more spectacular catches of the night, earning himself a SportsCenter top play and a spot on my list.
With the bases loaded, Prince Fielder murdered a pitch that was without question leaving the yard.
Johnson hopped up and burglarized Fielder of a grand slam. If Johnson had not taken the ball back in, it would have tied the game at six.
Instead of four runs on a slam, the Brewers only got one on a sacrifice fly. The Cubs also beat them, 8-5.
No. 5: Curtis Granderson Robs Grady Sizemore
Curtis Granderson saved Justin Verlander big time with this grab on May 8.
This would have been just another great moment for Grady Sizemore, who is adored by the Indians' faithful. It would have been a walk-off home run to end the game and give the Tribe a win over the Tigers.
But Granderson made sure it didn't happen, leaping the wall and saving the game with an unbelievable catch.
Verlander must have bought him dinner that night, because it preserved his complete game shutout.
No. 4: Torii Hunter Robs Barry Bonds
It's no surprise that Hunter made the list more than once.
Hunter once said that he would rather rob a home run than hit a home run, and described the looks on the faces of the players he has robbed.
Well Barry Bonds should have called the police the night of the All Star Game in 2002, because Hunter struck again.
In the bottom of first, Bonds drilled a long fly ball to center, looking as though it would leave the yard.
Hunter denied the future home run king* of a midsummer classic home run with a leap of the wall and an astonishing snag.
That home run could have proved to be the difference in the game, as it ended in a 7-7 tie.
Bonds didn't take it too hard, as he playfully hoisted Hunter over his shoulder after the thievery.
No. 3: Carl Crawford Robs Brad Hawpe
The next save on the list also came in the All-Star Game.
On July 14 of this season, the American League and the National League squared off in the 80th annual All Star Game.
In a 3-3 game in the bottom of the seventh, Brad Hawpe of the Colorado Rockies hammered a pitch off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon that would have landed in the A.L. bullpen.
Carl Crawford of the Rays saved the A.L. and Papelbon, as he jumped and caught the ball to rob the N.L. of a late-inning lead.
The A.L. went on to win the game by a score of 4-3. And for his catch, Crawford went on to win the All Star Game Most Valuable Player Award.
He later said to the press after the game, "I've never robbed a home run before. But I picked a pretty good time to rob my first."
No. 2: Endy Chavez Robs Scott Rolen
Endy Chavez will go down as the guy that temporarily saved the NLCS for the Mets in 2006.
I say temporarily because the Mets went on to lose to the St. Louis Cardinals, although I truly felt they were the better team because of plays like this.
It was game seven of the NLCS on Oct. 19. Tied 1-1, Scott Rolen clobbered Oliver Perez's offering to deep left field.
Chavez made a super-heroic like leap, reached his glove over the wall and came down with the baseball.
With all his wits about him, he bazooka'd the ball in to double up Jim Edmonds at first base for a double play.
But as I said, it was only temporary. The Cards wound up beating the Mets to take the series and also went on to win the World Series.
But Chavez's catch kept the Mets in the game and saved two runs. There was so much at stake, and although the Mets lost, Chavez made a remarkable grab that was so great it was named top postseason moment in the "This Year in Baseball" awards.
No. 1: Dewayne Wise Robs Gabe Kapler
This is probably the most meaningful catch on the list.
Yesterday was July 23, 2009. It was also the day Mark Buehrle tossed the 18th perfect game in baseball history against the Tampa Bay Rays, becoming the first pitcher to accomplish the feat since Randy Johnson in 2004.
The perfect game would have ended in the top of the ninth if it wasn't for Dewayne Wise, the White Sox center fielder.
ChiSox skipper Ozzie Guillen put Wise in the game for defensive purposes for the ninth, and boy was that the best decision he could ever make.
Gabe Kapler smacked the ball deep to center field. With the ball tailing out, Wise leapt and brought the ball back into the park, maintaining the perfect game and the shutout.
Buehrle went on to get the perfecto, his second career no-hitter and first perfect game.
Wise said after the game the only gratitude he wanted from Buehrle was a hug and a thank you.
There was somewhat of a strange connection between Buehrle's perfect game yesterday and his first no-hitter, which came on April 18, 2007.
He faced the same number of batters in both games (27) and the time stamps of both games were identical. Both games lasted approximately two hours and three minutes.
Also, umpire Eric Cooper worked behind the plate in both of Buehrle's pitching gems, proving that the connection between the supernatural and baseball is alive and well.
And that connection is kept alive through the sparkling defense showcased in each game.