109 mph laser rips glove, ends ALDS

One strip of leather saved the Rays

October 10th, 2020

The Rays' 2-1 victory over the Yankees in Game 5 of the ALDS on Friday night was an instant classic. The game was filled with intrigue and drama, blazing fastballs and killer hooks, home runs and ... unfortunate bonks when trying to rob said home runs.

A former undrafted player named Mike Brosseau even hit a game-winning home run, and the pitch it came on, a 100.2 mph fastball from Aroldis Chapman, was the hardest-hit pitch for a homer this year! 

But the ending could have been very different if not for some extremely resilient leather.

New York was down to their final out of the game when Yankees breakout star Gio Urshela stepped to the plate to face Diego Castillo. A New York win didn't look likely -- Castillo hadn't allowed a run in nine straight appearances dating back to Sept. 2.

Still, Urshela got a hold of one. On the first pitch of his at-bat, Urshela ripped Castillo's offering down the third-base line. It was a rocket, a laser, an absolute meteor that somehow Joey Wendle was able to grab with some impressive split-second reflexes. Game over.

It nearly wasn't. Urshela hit the ball so hard -- 109.6 mph -- that he almost tore Wendle's glove in doing so. Just look at the ball practically bursting from his glove.

One strip of leather was all that separated the Rays from advancing and a "The Natural"-esque scene that would have surely ushered in the kind of October Yankees magic that everyone makes fun of but we all know exists.

The ball was hit so hard that even though it nearly ripped the leather, it was also completely lodged in the remaining webbing. Wendle didn't even need to close his hand around the ball to make the out.

The little white dot in the picture below? Yeah, that's the ball in Wendle's open mitt:

Even more shocking: It was the hardest-hit ball all night. Forget Mike Brosseau's game-winning dinger, Urshela had him beat:

Unfortunately for Yankees fans, runs count and not exit velocity. Tampa Bay will now advance to play the Astros in the ALCS starting on Sunday night. First pitch is at 7:37 p.m. ET on TBS.