ST. PETERSBURG -- Steven Souza Jr. pulled a Kevin Kiermaier in the fourth to flag down a Chris Davis drive with a diving catch at the wall Wednesday night in the Rays' 3-1 loss to the Orioles at Tropicana Field."That was KK-esque," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He just kind
ST. PETERSBURG -- Steven Souza Jr. pulled a Kevin Kiermaier in the fourth to flag down a Chris Davis drive with a diving catch at the wall Wednesday night in the Rays' 3-1 loss to the Orioles at Tropicana Field.
"That was KK-esque," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He just kind of came out of nowhere. Just a tremendous play."
Souza had a max speed of 19.5 mph and a route efficiency of 96.1 percent while covering 88 feet to make the highlight-reel catch, according to Statcast™.
Batting with one out in the fourth, Davis swung at a 1-0 fastball from Rays starter Matt Moore and drove the ball toward the 370-foot sign in right-center field.
Playing right field, Souza sprinted to his right to give chase, while Kiermaier sprinted to his left from center. For a suspenseful instant, a collision looked possible.
"I just tried to make a play for Matt out there," Souza said. "I looked at KK, we kind of made eye contact, which in the back of my mind tells me he's not going to be able to catch it. So just tried to lay out for it."
Souza dove toward the wall to make the catch.
"Once I left my feet, I thought there was a prayer," Souza said. "Then I kind of accelerated through my jump, and then I knew I could get it."
Ironically, when he came down with the ball in his glove, Souza found himself at the feet of Kiermaier, the Gold and Platinum Glove recipient from 2015.
Souza smiled when asked what Kiermaier told him after the catch: "He said, 'That was platinum-ish.'"
All kidding aside, Souza allowed that Kiermaier "doesn't even know how much he's influenced me."
"Just watching him go about his business day to day," Souza said. "And then in the game, just watching the effort he's put in. It's really elevated my level of play on defense. And it's really an honor to play next to him every day."
Souza went hitless on Wednesday night, but he's hitting .277 with five home runs and 11 RBIs, looking more like the player the Rays thought they were getting when they traded for him prior to last season.
"You know Souza, it's nice to see," Cash said. "He's playing with a lot of confidence right now. He's swinging the bat with a lot of confidence. He's playing defense with confidence. And the other night, he ran the bases with confidence to score the big run that got us on board. So he's doing a lot of good things for us, and that catch today just kind of highlights that."
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.