SAN DIEGO -- While many people on the East Coast were sound asleep, Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier was doing what he does best: robbing opposing players of extra-base hits.
Kiermaier, who has had many spectacular catches this season and over his career, made another highlight-reel play during Monday’s 10-4 win over the Padres, robbing Francisco Mejia of a home run with a leaping grab against the wall in right-center field.
“I think it would’ve been a homer,” Kiermaier said. “So, you have to get to Point B, being the ball there. You have to put yourself in a position and time your jump. I think that might be the most important key to the whole play, because if you don’t do that, then you can hit the wall or jump in too soon and the ball just sneaks over, so I did everything the perfect way, to be honest.”
With the Rays leading, 10-2, in the eighth inning, Kiermaier got a good jump on the ball and tracked it down before jumping and banging into the wall. Kiermaier was down on the field for a few seconds after making the grab, but he remained in the game for the final inning.
“Wish I could have just got right up, but like I said, maybe a little bit of whiplash, I’m not really sure,” Kiermaier said. “I just knew right away that it didn’t feel great, but I will be fine.”
The 2015 Platinum Glove Award winner has made many spectacular catches again this year, with his leaping grab vs. the Blue Jays on May 27 at the top of the list. His home-run-robbing catch in 2015 vs. the Orioles at Camden Yards is probably his poster catch, but Kiermaier said that his snag on Monday, at spacious Petco Park, was some of his best work.
“I always say that if you want this elite reputation, you have to make elite plays,” Kiermaier said. “And I think that was an elite play, and I was trying to make the case that no one else can do what I can do out there.”