HOUSTON -- Martín Maldonado may have turned in the play of the year by a catcher, but it came at a price.
Maldonado departed the Astros’ 7-0 loss to the Rays after five innings on Wednesday night due to a sore left shoulder that he suffered while making a tremendous diving catch in foul territory to end the fourth inning. Maldonado, a Gold Glove Award winner with the Angels in 2017, sprang from his crouch and darted 40 feet into foul territory to catch a bunt off the bat of Brett Phillips.
“That was awesome,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s probably one of the finer plays of the year because that foul ball wasn’t that high. He had the presence of mind to know where the ball was, 'cause if he didn’t know where the ball was, he certainly couldn’t have gotten there on time.”
Maldonado extended out his left arm and dived as he caught the ball. Rookie pitcher Luis Garcia, who was also on the chase, gave an exuberant fist bump and a hug to Maldonado as he helped him off the ground. Maldonado had just thrown out Kevin Kiermaier at second base attempting to steal for the second out of the inning.
Maldonado stayed in the game to play defense in the fifth inning, but the Astros didn’t want him batting when his turn in the order came up in the sixth.
“He could be back in there tomorrow,” Baker said. “It just depends on how sore he is when he wakes up in the morning. We took him out for precaution. Really didn’t want him to swing if something was wrong in there. Right now, it’s just left shoulder soreness.”