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Hechavarria's D a 'reel' headache for opponents

MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Adeiny Hechavarria has only been with the Rays for two weeks, but he's already stuffed the team's defensive highlight reel. He added two more dazzling entries to his resume in Saturday's 1-0 win over the Red Sox, helping back starting pitcher Alex Cobb.

Hechavarria snagged Hanley Ramirez's second-inning liner, which had an 86-percent chance of falling for a hit according to Statcast™. His play against Mitch Moreland in the fifth had a smaller statistical chance of landing as a hit (54 percent), but visually seemed more difficult: Hechavarria dove for the line drive, knocked it down with the edge of his glove and made the throw to first in mid-tumble.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Adeiny Hechavarria has only been with the Rays for two weeks, but he's already stuffed the team's defensive highlight reel. He added two more dazzling entries to his resume in Saturday's 1-0 win over the Red Sox, helping back starting pitcher Alex Cobb.

Hechavarria snagged Hanley Ramirez's second-inning liner, which had an 86-percent chance of falling for a hit according to Statcast™. His play against Mitch Moreland in the fifth had a smaller statistical chance of landing as a hit (54 percent), but visually seemed more difficult: Hechavarria dove for the line drive, knocked it down with the edge of his glove and made the throw to first in mid-tumble.

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"[Those plays], they don't get made. It's not real," Cobb said. "When you're on the mound, you just feel like you hit the lotto."

Hechavarria helps Rays pitchers feel lucky on a regular basis. Just two innings into his Rays career playing in Pittsburgh, Hechavarria made a diving stop and threw out a runner from deep in the hole. He's using a smaller glove this year, but it has not hindered the shortstop from corralling baseballs.

"When I'm playing defense, I want to take over," Hechavarria said through a translator. "I want to be the man on the spot, I want to be that guy that makes the big plays and I want to help the team to win. And you guys saw it today."

Applause-worthy plays like those Hechavarria pulls off impact both dugouts. Ramirez's line drive led off the second, and Hechavarria's snag meant Cobb did not have to pitch from the stretch -- likely with a man in scoring position -- for the rest of the inning.

"I don't think people realize how much it is just an out, but it's so much more than an out," Cobb said. "The workload it takes off, it all trickles down later into the fifth, sixth, seventh, into the eighth inning. There's not enough to be said about big plays like that, what it does for the momentum for us on the mound."

Meanwhile, Ramirez and Moreland had to return to the Boston dugouts empty-handed, both reduced to being another out in a pair of one-two-three innings that would later add up to a shutout.

"You can see the emotion on those guys," Cobb said. "It's hard to get a hit in the big leagues. When … you feel it off the bat, you see where it's going, and then it's just taken away from you in the blink of an eye, it's a little tough to handle."

Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.

Tampa Bay Rays, Adeiny Hechavarria