How does Keon Broxton's game-ending catch stack up among the greatest in recent memory?
In the Brewers' 6-5 win over the Cardinals Wednesday afternoon, Keon Broxton snatched victory from the jaws of having to bat in the bottom of the ninth when he leapt for and caught Randal Grichuk's fly ball with two outs in the ninth inning:
Due to his speed and the fact that he plays the outfield, the concept of a highlight-reel catch is not a foreign one to Broxton. Certainly robbing a two-run home run to end the game in protection of a one-run lead ranks highly among the highlights of his career.
But where does it rank among other great game-ending catches in relatively recent memory? Both the catch itself and the context -- the Brewers and Cardinals are both in contention for the NL Wild Card -- combine to make it pretty great. What follows is a collection of Broxton's peers, in no particular order.
Steven Souza preserves Jordan Zimmermann's no-hitter
Having recently entered the game as a defensive replacement, all eyes were on Souza as Christian Yelich sent a looping line drive into the gap with Zimmermann one out away from a no-hitter. Just as all hope seemed lost, the rookie took flight and helped his pitcher get that last out.
Odubel Herrera saves Cole Hamels' no-hitter from the ground
Continuing on the theme of no-hitters, we come to a more-recent catch from Herrera to preserve Hamels' no-hitter in his last start as a Phillie. Herrera initially over-ran Kris Bryant's fly ball to center field, but recovered in time to make the final out while lying on the ground.
Kevin Kiermaier robs a home run to seal the win
While this catch did not guarantee a no-hitter or snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, Kiermaier's perfectly timed leap and catch of Jason Kipnis' would-be solo home run is a nice way to end a game, even if it likely only affected the margin of victory.
Coco Crisp sends the 2007 Red Sox to the World Series
Sure, the Red Sox had already broken the Curse of the Bambino by winning the World Series in 2004, but no one in Boston was going to complain about getting another shot at it. Speedy center fielder Crisp sent them back for the second time in four years with this great full-speed grab while running into the Fenway wall.
Mike Trout robs Ike Davis of a walk-off
Mike Trout does everything. He can hit for average, hit for power, steal bases, draw a walk, and play great defense in the outfield. But, did you know he also makes leaping game-winning catches? With the Angels lead in jeopardy against the A's with two outs in the ninth inning, Trout put that last tool of his on display.
Jason Heyward lays out to rob Justin Turner
Back when Heyward and Craig Kimbrel were on the Braves and Turner was on the Mets, Heyward helped his teammate -- then, as now, one of the best closers in the game -- lock down the save by showing off some range in center field. If Heyward's Cubs meet Turner's Dodgers in the postseason, we wonder if they'll be discussing this catch.
Brent Lillibridge owns the ninth inning
We've been focusing exclusively on game-ending catches here, but often, a deeper appreciation of the context is important to set the stage for a catch. With the White Sox leading the Yankees with one out in the ninth inning, Alex Rodriguez looked poised to be a hero on a fly ball sent deep into Yankee Stadium's shallow right field.
Next up was Robinson Cano. Still with runners on first and second -- but now with two outs -- Cano also hit the ball to right field, but this time a line drive down the line. They say, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." In this case: Hit it to Lillibridge once -- honest mistake. Hit it to him twice, shame on the Yankees.
Obviously there have been many more great catches to seal victories and this is just a small sampling of recent displays. These -- and all the other acts of defensive heroism -- deserve appreciation.
Which game-ending grab is your favorite? Feel free to weigh in.