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Benintendi's catch named AP Play of the Year

MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

Andrew Benintendi's diving catch that helped the Red Sox seal Game 4 of the American League Championship Series was honored Friday as the Associated Press Play of the Year across all sports.

Benintendi's grab, which came with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning in Houston, helped the Red Sox claim Game 4 and take a commanding 3-1 lead over the Astros in a series Boston finished off the following night. The Red Sox went on to defeat the Dodgers in five games to capture their fourth World Series title in a span of 15 years.

Andrew Benintendi's diving catch that helped the Red Sox seal Game 4 of the American League Championship Series was honored Friday as the Associated Press Play of the Year across all sports.

Benintendi's grab, which came with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning in Houston, helped the Red Sox claim Game 4 and take a commanding 3-1 lead over the Astros in a series Boston finished off the following night. The Red Sox went on to defeat the Dodgers in five games to capture their fourth World Series title in a span of 15 years.

The catch sealed one of the most thrilling postseason victories in Red Sox history. In the game, Jose Altuve saw a home run called back because of fan interference, Mookie Betts made a sensational assist from right field and the Boston offense came from behind twice. Game 4 lasted four hours and 33 minutes before Alex Bregman's final at-bat with a chance to walk the Astros off and tie the series. Bregman made good contact on a sinking liner off Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, but Benintendi got an excellent jump on the ball.

If Benintendi had missed the ball, the Astros likely would have celebrated with the winning runs. But he gloved it instead, spurring the Red Sox to their eventual pennant.

"I thought I could catch it. I timed it up well," Benintendi said. "That's when it was either do or die. I'm glad I caught it."

Statcast™ measured that Benintendi had to cover 45 feet of ground in just 3.2 seconds of opportunity time, giving him a catch probability of just 21 percent based on previous plays with that combination of distance needed and opportunity time. It was Benintendi's first 5-star catch (as rated by Statcast™) of the 2018 season, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

"I gave him a big hug," Kimbrel said after Game 4. "He might get a big Christmas present."

That remains to be seen, but in the meantime Benintendi takes home another honor in a banner year for the Red Sox's stars.

Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale finished runner-up in the AP's rankings for her pair of buzzer beaters in the NCAA Women's National Championship basketball tournament, followed by the Eagles' "Philly Special" that helped them defeat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi