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Walk-off defense: Ranking the coolest ways to end a baseball game in the field

On Sunday night, we saw a tightly contested game between the Astros and Red Sox, two of the best teams in the American League. The two contenders traded blows all game long, with the teams combining for five dingers on the night. Naturally, the game ended on a caught stealing when defensive wizard Christian Vázquez threw out rookie Derek Fisher at second base to halt the Astros' rally against Immovable Object Craig Kimbrel:

POOF. In a literal blink, the game was over. Minute Maid Park was silenced, and George Springer was left standing in the box with nothing to do.
So as much as we love walk-off homers that send stadiums across America into pandemonium, defense can end baseball games in similarly spectacular fashion. Here are a few of my favorite examples from recent years:
6. Justin Smoak: Right place, right time -- 4/25/14

The Rangers had done everything right in this inning. Down, 6-3, against then-Mariners closer Fernando Rodney, the Rangers loaded the bases and then drew back-to-back walks to cut the deficit to one with Adrián Beltré stepping up to the plate. Things were going great! Then Beltre ripped a liner down the first-base line -- seemingly still doing things right! -- only to be rewarded with a double play. Baseball is so cruel sometimes. 
5. Yasiel Puig: Debut double play -- 6/3/13

Injuries and inconsistent performance have substantially negated the luster on the shiny new toy the baseball world received in 2013 known as Yasiel Puig. But let us not forget how outrageously fun Puig was for his rookie summer with the Dodgers. The 22-year-old arrived in the big leagues with barely any Minor League time and a whole lot of mystery. And then in his first career game he makes this otherworldly throw and Puig-mania had officially begun. This was the coming-out party for Yasiel Puig's right arm, which we have come to know so well.
4. David Ross' beautiful back pick -- 6/4/15

The only thing cooler than a walk-off caught stealing is a walk-off backpick to first base. This one was courtesy of David Ross back in 2015. Clint Robinson represented the go-ahead run at first base, and was clearly a little too eager to start his 270-foot journey to potential victory. Ross was more than thrilled to have cut that journey short:

Forget running. You can't even lead with Grandpa Rossy behind the dish.
3. Carlos Gómez makes Joey Votto sad -- 7/8/13

Perhaps the only thing better than hitting a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning is robbing a go-ahead home run in the 9th inning. Gomez did just that on this long fly ball off the bat of Votto to preserve the Brewers victory. Votto refused to believe what had just happened:

He begged the umpires to make Gomez show the ball he had supposedly caught before Gomez eventually took it out of his glove and tossed it to his closer, Francisco Rodríguez, as a "you're welcome" gesture of sorts.
2. Detroit's extra-inning relay -- 4/17/13

This was a fittingly ridiculous end to a 4-hour 27-minute,14-inning affair in which the Tigers and Mariners combined to strike out 40 (!!!) times and strangely also combined to leave 40 (!!!) men on base. Smoak was certainly not the most optimal baserunner to have trying to score from first base, but in a game with so few scoring opportunities, they obviously had to send him. But a picture-perfect relay started by Torii Hunter gave catcher Brayan Peña plenty of time to set his feet and prepare for impact. There are very few moments in sports like a play at the plate -- even ones that happen during April games that end around 3 a.m. EST -- and this one did not disappoint. This post-collision shot is a truly glorious baseball image:

1. "OHHHH JACKSON" -- 8/21/11

This is the gold standard for game-ending defensive highlights. Plays at the plate are exciting, but their main drawback is that you can't always anticipate when one is about to happen. Situations like this, however, are the defensive equivalent of what you dream about when you're playing in the backyard -- 3-2 count, bases loaded, bottom of the ninth. You know the play at the plate is coming, and the tension builds quickly. It feels like the three seconds that the ball hangs in the air deserves a drum roll for the inevitably awesome baseball play that is about to happen. And what's a great defensive highlight without an outstanding call from the broadcast? OHHHH JACKSON, indeed. Cheers to you, Austin.