You can't do any better on defense than this (without an out)

May 8th, 2022

SAN DIEGO – If, somehow, Ha-Seong Kim had managed to get his off-balance throw across the diamond on target, we’d be talking about one of the single greatest defensive plays in Padres history, perhaps in the history of the sport.

Instead, we can still marvel at a truly outrageous feat of athleticism from the Padres’ infielder.

With Manny Machado at designated hitter, Kim moved from shortstop to third base on Saturday night. In the top of the sixth inning of the Padres’ 8-0 loss to the Marlins at Petco Park, Miami’s Bryan De La Cruz hit a sharp grounder down the third-base line. Kim ranged to his right and dove, but the ball caromed off the third-base bag and into the air.

Somehow, Kim contorted his body, raising his glove hand at the last possible moment to make a ridiculous snag, before he fell to the ground with a thud. Kim had to scramble to his feet, and his throw was off target. Nonetheless, Kim was greeted with a rousing ovation at Petco Park.

“That probably would’ve been up there as one of the sickest plays I’ve ever seen in real life,” said left-hander Sean Manaea, who was on the mound at the time. “He was this close to making that throw. I would’ve lost it.”

Kim's midair adjustment called to mind what’s widely regarded as the greatest defensive play in franchise history -- Ozzie Smith’s barehanded snag on a bad hop in 1978. The Wizard completed that play with a strike to first base.

Alas, it wasn’t to be for Kim. De La Cruz was credited with an infield single -- no doubt, one of the most dramatic infield singles you’re ever likely to see.

“I don’t even know how he put a glove on it,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said. “That’s just reactionary. Wherever you put him on the diamond, he gives you a good defensive effort. And that one, I don’t know how he came up with it.”