CLEVELAND -- When Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain hit a 98-mph liner to the left-center-field gap at Progressive Field on Saturday, Bradley Zimmer slipped on his second step toward the fly ball. But the Indians center fielder didn't let that slow him down, as he sprinted to his right before making
CLEVELAND -- When Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain hit a 98-mph liner to the left-center-field gap at Progressive Field on Saturday, Bradley Zimmer slipped on his second step toward the fly ball. But the Indians center fielder didn't let that slow him down, as he sprinted to his right before making an unbelievable run-saving catch.
"He slipped. His second step he kind of missed a step," Indians manager Terry Franconca said after the Indians' 4-0 win over the Royals on Saturday. "It's like he kind of willed himself. I know there wasn't a whole lot to spare, but my goodness, considering the timing of the play, the score, that was a great catch."
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After he made the catch, Zimmer (aka "Machine" for Players Weekend) turned over on his back and held his glove in the air. This made starter Mike Clevinger throw both of his hands up in celebration, and it brought the sellout crowd to its feet.
"[When he got back to the dugout], I just grabbed him," Clevinger said. "Instantly just grabbed him. Wasn't a lot to be said, it's kind of speechless after that catch."
Tribe fans did not have a whole lot to cheer for through 4 2/3 innings, as Royals starter Jason Hammel was mowing down hitter after hitter in his bid for a perfect game. But with one on and two outs in the top of the fifth in a scoreless game, the 6-foot-5 rookie's all-out diving catch to rob Cain brought the park to life.
"[Cain] smoked it," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I didn't think Zimmer had much of a chance. That was just a phenomenal play, one of the ones best you'll see."
According to Statcast™, Zimmer covered 66 feet in 4.2 seconds to rob Cain, making it a two-star catch. The play had a catch probability of 79 percent. The play was nearly identical to another diving catch the rookie made earlier this season in Detroit, where he took away an extra-base hit from Tigers outfielder Michael Mahtook. Oddly enough, Zimmer also covered 66 feet in 4.2 seconds to make that catch, too.
"I saw the replay kind of right after that," Zimmer said. "It took me back to Detroit to the one I made there, just that feeling of selling out and giving everything I have there, so I mean, it was definitely one that I'll remember, and again, it was a big play for us."
Tribe fans didn't have to wait long for Zimmer to give them something more to cheer for on Saturday, as his single to left-center in the bottom of the sixth broke up Hammel's perfect game. Zimmer came around to score the game's first run when the next batter, Roberto Perez (aka "Bebo" for Players Weekend) launched a two-run homer to the bleachers in left-center.
"[Hammel] was good tonight," Zimmer said. "He's been good the last couple of times we faced him. Hats off to him. But yeah, we got to him there that inning and completely changed the momentum there. Roberto hits a homer and we're on top and we kind of rolled from there.
In all, Zimmer finished the night going 2-for-3 with two singles -- one of which was an infield hit that he hustled for with a feet-first slide -- and a stolen base. But Zimmer said that the thing he will remember most from Saturday's victory was his catch.
"That's definitely something that I'll remember for a long time," Zimmer said. "Hopefully there will be many more and better ones to come."
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.