Another trick at wall: Pillar robs Bryant in ivy

August 20th, 2017

CHICAGO -- didn't exactly run through a brick wall to make another highlight-reel catch, but he came pretty close.
Pillar made one of his most difficult grabs yet in Toronto's 6-5 loss to the Cubs on Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field. He has survived some crashes into walls before, but nothing quite like the one he experienced in the series finale vs. Chicago.
The 28-year-old Pillar made a leaping grab in straightaway center and somehow managed to hang onto the ball after jumping into the ivy at full speed. It was enough to rob of extra bases and give the Blue Jays a chance in a game they ultimately gave away in the 10th inning.
"I think it's just something that I've learned over time by playing other sports, just how to brace for contact," Pillar said. "When you know you're about to hit something that's not going to move, you know how to just let your body go and absorb the blow as opposed to trying to tense up and take all of the impact on your shoulder.
"You just make the play, and whatever happens after that happens. You kind of just let the blow absorb through your whole body. You get up and continue to play. My body feels good. It's a good time for an off-day, but my body feels good."
Pillar came up limping after the catch, but he waved off his teammates and the training staff in Toronto's dugout to indicate that he was OK. It's one thing to make that catch at the padded walls in Toronto, and it's another thing entirely to do it while running full steam into a wall made of bricks.
The sold-out crowd at Wrigley responded with a standing ovation for Pillar's efforts. Cubs fans have seen those type of plays from him before on television, but this was Toronto's first visit to the North Side of Chicago since 2005.
According to Statcast™, Bryant's shot to centre had a hit probability of 87 percent, and it left his bat at 104.1 mph. Pillar made his grab just to the left of the 400-foot marker.
"Huge play," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Kev, it doesn't surprise me. That's not necessarily a wall you'd want to take on. He's never played here -- now he can put that one on his wall, too."
Pillar also had another productive day at the plate with a pair of hits, including the go-ahead RBI single in the top of the 10th inning. That looked like it would be enough to help the Blue Jays avoid a three-game sweep, but instead, the game fell apart in the bottom half of the frame thanks to wild pitches and a walk-off single by Alex Avila.

That spoiled an otherwise positive afternoon for Pillar, but he finished the Cubs series with six hits in front of a large group of family and friends who made the trip to Chicago.
"It was definitely something when the schedule came out -- I was excited to get an opportunity to come here and play them," Pillar said. "With them winning the World Series last year makes it even more special.
"It was just an amazing weekend for me, personally, being able to go out there and play the way I feel like I should play every day, and to be able to do it in front of a lot of fans that traveled a long way and in front of my family that made the trip out here is something I'll always remember."