ATLANTA -- Lorenzo Cain has a long highlight reel of incredible catches in center field.
And the 2019 Gold Glove Award winner nearly made another one in the fourth inning of the Brewers’ 3-0 loss to the Braves on Monday afternoon in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, which put Milwaukee behind 2-1 in the best-of-five set.
Adam Duvall smashed an elevated fastball toward the wall in right-center field at Truist Park. Cain ran 97 feet in 5.2 seconds, and he stuck out his left arm and caught it as he slammed into the fence. But the ball popped out after Cain fell backward and landed on the warning track, allowing Duvall to cruise into third for a triple.
“It was an incredible effort and one we've seen from Lorenzo time and time again,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. “It was, ‘I'm going to catch this baseball.’ He's putting his body on the line a lot. He was fortunate that he just kind of jammed his [left] shoulder and really just kind of feels, so far, it's just been muscular, nothing structural. He's probably going to be a little sore tomorrow, but I'm optimistic [he’ll play].”
Should it have been a catch? No, according to Rule 5.90(a)(1).
The rule establishes that “the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.”
In this case, it was not intentional. And that’s what pained Cain the most.
“I was more mad about the ball popping out of my glove than anything,” Cain said. “Shoulder will be fine. I'm more upset that [the ball] popped out.”
The catch probability on the play was only 10 percent, per Statcast, which would have made for a five-star catch. But Cain hit the wall so hard that the ball was forced out of his glove and he had to be checked on by the Brewers’ training staff.
Like classic Cain, he ended up staying in the game. And he doesn’t expect to miss Game 4 on Tuesday, either.
“I'll feel a little sore tomorrow,” Cain said, “but I plan on being in there.”