Grand catch: Marlins' Sánchez robs Suárez of game-tying slam

June 15th, 2023

SEATTLE -- The weight of the ball in his glove let Marlins right fielder know that he had made the catch of his life during Wednesday night’s 4-1 victory over the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.

With the Marlins clinging to a four-run ninth-inning lead, the Mariners loaded the bases with one out due to some shaky infield defense. Following a mound visit by Miami pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr., Eugenio Suárez stepped to the plate against closer A.J. Puk, who was pitching in a non-save situation.

Suárez sent the fourth pitch of the at-bat -- a 2-1 sweeper off the outside corner -- toward the right-field wall. Due to a 30-degree launch angle, Sánchez had time to camp under it, then leap up to rob Suárez of a game-tying grand slam.

According to Statcast, it would’ve been a homer in 11 of 30 Major League ballparks. It traveled 372 feet from home plate, with an exit velocity of 98.1 mph.

“[Outfield coach] Jon Jay gave me a little warning of going a little back on that at-bat, and when I saw the ball just going out, elevating, just kept going back to the wall,” Sánchez said via interpreter Luis Dorante Jr. “Just waiting there, just the timing and the jump. And when I felt the glove that was heavy, I knew there that I made the catch. So I grabbed the ball, just made the throw. It was great.”

Puk didn’t think Suárez got all of it, but the ball kept carrying. Marlins manager Skip Schumaker, who was a teammate of Suárez’s in Cincinnati, knew Suárez had opposite-field pop and therefore “didn’t love” the swing off the bat.

"The moment I saw that he was jumping, I thought it was a homer, for sure,” Suárez said. “And he made a really good catch. That's why I'm like, I give credit to him because he made a really good catch."

A run scored on the sacrifice fly, making it a three-run ballgame. With a pair of runners on the corners, Puk settled down his emotions to retire Cal Raleigh on a lineout to Sánchez for the final out.

“I was like, ‘Wow.’ I'd rather be lucky, though,’” said Puk, who called it the best catch that has been made with him on the mound. “It was just fun to see, and I was just kind of in the moment there, and it was just an exciting play, and I was definitely happy it worked out.”

Sánchez knew the importance of the moment while playing no-doubles defense. Miami had dropped the first two games of the series, being outscored 17-4. Seattle was the second leg of a three-city trip across three time zones. If he didn’t make the catch, the Marlins would’ve kept playing and furthered delayed their red-eye flight to Washington, D.C. 

Asked whether his phone was blowing up with messages from back home, Sánchez said no.

“Not at this time. At this time, everybody's sleeping in the Dominican Republic.”