You have to see this Manny play to believe it

Oh, Machado hit a key opposite-field home run, too

April 13th, 2019

PHOENIX -- It was one of the most difficult plays a third baseman could ever be asked to make.

Manny Machado, as he so often does, made it look easy.

"Nothing new," the Padres third baseman would later say. "That's what I practice for."

A month and a half ago, San Diego gave Machado a record-setting contract because he's capable of pulling off the spectacular. In a 2-1 victory Friday night in Arizona, Machado authored his most spectacular moment as a Padre.

Leading off the eighth, D-backs catcher Carson Kelly bounced a two-hopper up the third-base line. Machado backhanded the ball behind the bag, well into foul territory. Rather than stopping to set his feet, he took two more steps to his right -- even farther from his intended target. Then he uncorked a 151-foot throw from an impossible sidearm angle.

Right on the money.

First baseman Eric Hosmer barely even moved his glove.

"I don't know if you'd see anybody else make that play," said Adam Warren, who was on the mound at the time.

"The game's easy for the guy, it really is," said catcher Austin Hedges. "He should have set his feet. He was like, 'Nah, I'm good.' He doesn't need to."

"I could try it 150 times and not execute it once -- and they actually let me play third base in the big leagues some," said Padres manager Andy Green.

Machado has played no small part in the Padres' scorching hot start. They're 10-5, alone atop the National League West for the first time in eight years and determined to stay there.

In the top of the first inning, Machado put San Diego on top with an opposite-field home run. It came on a 96 mph fastball from Luke Weaver that barely even clipped the outside corner. It was the type of moment that would lead any player's highlight reel.

Somehow, it took only seven innings for Machado to top it.

"He's just special," Green said. "What's so great about this game is you get to see really exceptional athletes do special things."

In Machado's mind, it wasn't all that special. In fact, it was somewhat routine.

"I'm just trying to save a double in whatever way," he said. "... There [are] different situations with different hitters. There's a lot of variables. It was just one that I decided to catch and throw."

After watching the ball soar into Hosmer's glove, Machado nonchalantly dropped his head for a moment. He didn't catch Warren's reaction -- which summed up the feelings of every Padres fan.

Warren broke into a huge grin. He turned in Machado's direction and didn't even need to say a word. He just kept smiling.

"The way he threw it, it's right on the money," Warren said. "I'm just kind of awestruck, kind of speechless."

Machado's defensive wizardry is nothing new, of course. He won two Gold Glove Awards in Baltimore. So what, exactly, makes Machado so special at third base? In Green's eyes, Friday's play was the perfect encapsulation.

"He does everything you could never teach," Green said. "I don't know how. You need a cutoff man for most human beings to throw that from that arm slot over to first base. He makes it look so easy."

And maybe, to Machado, it really is.