TORONTO -- Steven Souza Jr. didn't hesitate to show off the leather in the Rays' 7-4 win over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Rogers Centre."Souza played a really good right field," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.The Rays' right fielder had several highlight reel plays, but his best one came
TORONTO -- Steven Souza Jr. didn't hesitate to show off the leather in the Rays' 7-4 win over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Rogers Centre.
"Souza played a really good right field," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
The Rays' right fielder had several highlight reel plays, but his best one came in the bottom of the first inning.
After Rays starter Blake Snell surrendered a leadoff single to right, the Blue Jays looked like they might add to the damage when Darwin Barney hit a sinking line drive to right field.
Souza got a good jump on the ball and reacted quickly. According to Statcast™, he covered 32 feet in 2.8 seconds before making the diving 5-star catch for the first out of the inning.
Statcast™ had the catch at a 24 percent probability, and the odds might have been higher factoring in Souza's 1-for-22 on 5-star opportunities last season.
Snell then retired Jose Bautista on a flyout to center before striking out Kendrys Morales for the third out.
Souza also made a running two-star grab to rob Jose Bautista of extra bases in the third. That one had an 82 percent catch probability and saw Souza cover 101 feet in 5.7 seconds before running into the wall after hauling in the baseball.
Finally, he made a diving play in the fourth to rob Devon Travis. Souza covered 37 feet in just 2.8 seconds to make the catch that had a hit probability of 85 percent.
Travis "hit a laser, and I just got a good bead on it," Souza said. "It was one of those ones that was low to the ground, and if I miss it, I have to make sure I knock it down. So I went aggressive early and got a good bead on it."
Snell was appreciative of Souza's, work since all of Souza's gems came while he was on the mound.
"I kept him busy, that's for sure," said Snell, who allowed that the play Souza made on Bautista was his favorite. "The one where he ran into the wall. That was a great play. He's going to have to get a massage. His body's definitely hurting."
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons felt as though the Bautista grab could have been a game-changer.
"Souza had a couple of great plays out there," Gibbons said. "Then the one that Jose took to the right-center-field wall -- that can turn the game if you put a few runs up on the board."
The Rays positioned Souza shallower than normal in the game's early going.
"Make them hit it over my head early," Souza said. "Then once we had a close game, late in the game, you just want to prevent a double."
Added Cash: "We shallowed up on some guys. It kind of worked in our benefit."
Most outfield kudos normally head in the direction of Gold Glove/Platinum Glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier. But Friday night belonged to Souza, and he came away with a handshake from Kiermaier for his work.
"Anytime you get a handshake from a Platinum player, it's a good day," Souza said.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.