Joe Musgrove went into a slide to stop a Michael Brantley bunt, then made an amazing throw to first
It can be a challenge for pitchers to man their positions. They have even less time the other defenders to get ready to field a ball after they've thrown it, especially if it's a softly hit grounder. That was the exactly the task that Pirates starter Joe Musgrove had to face on Tuesday night against the Indians.
With a runner on second in the bottom of the first, Michael Brantley surprised Musgrove by laying down a near-perfect drag bunt up the third-base line. Musgrove was the only player who could possibly make a play, so he went into a slide for the ball, snared it and threw to first ...
... just in time.
Musgrove drew from experience to pull off the highlight. "I'm always someone that's ready to field the ball when it's hit off the mound," he said after the game to MLB.com's Adam Berry. "I made that exact same play two years ago in Triple-A. It's just instinct. You just kind of react to it."
Executing that play perfectly is hard no matter what, and its difficulty was only enhanced by the fact that the 6-foot-5 Musgrove had a long way to go down to simply corral the ball. The fact that his throw was right on the money seems inconceivable given where he was and how quickly he had to fire it.
"He's probably our second-best athlete on the club overall behind [Starling Marte]," said manager Clint Hurdle of Musgrove's gem. "There's nothing he can't do athletically. That's a fantastic play in the first inning. Who knows where that inning goes if he doesn't make that play?"
Musgrove managed to hold the Indians to a single run in that first frame thanks to his play. He went on to throw seven superb innings of five-hit, two-run ball while the Pirates won their 11th straight game, 9-4. A little defense can go a long way.