NEW YORK -- The ball ricocheted from Brett Gardner's bat to Wilson Ramos’ catcher’s mitt, but it didn’t stick there -- at least not immediately. Instead, it pinballed over to Ramos’ bare right hand, then back to his left side. At that point, Ramos finally corralled it, squeezing the ball
NEW YORK -- The ball ricocheted from Brett Gardner's bat to Wilson Ramos’ catcher’s mitt, but it didn’t stick there -- at least not immediately. Instead, it pinballed over to Ramos’ bare right hand, then back to his left side. At that point, Ramos finally corralled it, squeezing the ball in his mitt as he clenched his right hand into a celebratory fist pump.
In the box score, it was a strikeout on a foul tip, ending the Mets’ 4-2 win over the Yankees on Tuesday. Such a simple description, however, does injustice to the catch’s degree of difficulty.
• Box score
“That was a nice play to end the game,” Ramos said. “It’s never happened with me in my career, but that was a nice play. That was a good reaction.”
Ramos’ juggling act ended a nine-pitch at-bat for Gardner, who fouled off three consecutive 3-2 pitches as rain began falling at Citi Field. With the potential tying run at the plate, Mets closer Edwin Díaz opted for a third straight fastball against Gardner, who again fouled it back -- though this time straight back, toward Ramos’ mitt.
When ball hit leather, it became possible for Ramos to turn it into a foul tip, which the MLB rulebook defines as “a batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher’s hands and is legally caught.” Ramos just had to complete the catch.
“It is not a foul tip unless caught and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play,” the rulebook continues. “It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball has first touched the catcher’s glove or hand.”
In other words, if the ball had ricocheted off Ramos’ chest protector into his glove, the game would not have ended. Because it hit his glove, then his hand, then his glove once again, it became strike three once Ramos secured it. Gardner, appreciating the difficulty of the play, gave Ramos a pat on the shoulder as he turned to walk off the field.
“That was instinct,” Ramos said. “As soon as he fouled off the ball and it hit my glove, I just turned around and the ball was close to me. I was trying to catch it with my hand, my glove, and finally did it.”
For Ramos, it was a light moment in what has otherwise been a difficult stretch. One of the Mets’ primary offseason acquisitions on a two-year, $19 million contract, Ramos has recently lost playing time because of Jacob deGrom’s preference to throw to backup Tomas Nido. Last weekend, Noah Syndergaard reportedly followed suit, asking manager Mickey Callaway if Nido could also catch his starts.
The Mets agreed, meaning Ramos will only be behind the plate for about 60 percent of the Mets’ games going forward. Nido will catch the other 40 percent. Known primarily for his offensive thump over a 10-year career, Ramos is batting .271 with nine home runs in 75 games, but his catcher’s ERA is 4.90 -- roughly a full run higher than Nido’s 3.91 mark.
“That’s never happened in my career before, especially when I’ve been healthy,” Ramos said of the loss of playing time. “But I’m not mad at all. I respect all the decisions the manager makes. I’m ready to play every time they put me in the lineup.”
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.