CLEVELAND -- Abraham Almonte pumped his fist hard and let out a shout after crashing hard into the right-field wall on Thursday night. It was hard to blame the Indians outfielder, given that potential game-saving catches do not always arrive in the first inning.Almonte's highlight-reel running robbery during the 4-3
CLEVELAND -- Abraham Almonte pumped his fist hard and let out a shout after crashing hard into the right-field wall on Thursday night. It was hard to blame the Indians outfielder, given that potential game-saving catches do not always arrive in the first inning.
Almonte's highlight-reel running robbery during the 4-3 win against Houston bailed ace Corey Kluber out of a jam, halting what had the makings of a big inning for Houston. With two outs and the bases loaded, Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel sent a line drive to deep right, where Almonte made the catch on a dead sprint before slamming into the wall.
"If I miss that ball, maybe it would be a different story," Almonte said. "It feels good."
Astros manager A.J. Hinch challenged the catch -- at full speed it looked as though the ball may have struck the wall before finding Almonte's glove -- but the out was confirmed after a replay review.
On the play, Almonte covered 77 feet in 5.1 seconds to track down Gurriel's line drive, which had a 100-mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™. The catch probability on the play was 93 percent, but that does not factor in the difficulty of navigating the wall at Progressive Field on that type of batted ball.
"He won the game right there. He won the game," Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor said. "He had a play like that earlier in the year, but he didn't get to it. He kind of slowed down as he was getting to the ball, and the ball hit the wall. Today, he went all out.
"So, he definitely worked on that, and learned from what happened earlier in the year. He made the play, and he helped us win today."
The Astros' rally began with a double by Josh Reddick, whose fly ball bounced off the glove of a diving Michael Brantley in left field. Norichika Aoki followed with an infield single, which Lindor attempted to barehand with no success. Kluber then struck out Carlos Correa on three pitches, and walked Brian McCann to load the bases. That set up a double-play opportunity around the diamond, but Kluber eliminated that scenario with another strikeout -- this time against Evan Gattis. That set the stage for Gurriel, who could not cash in on Houston's early baserunners.
"I hope that doesn't go overlooked," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Almonte's catch. "If he doesn't catch that ball, it's probably three runs. That's a lot to dig out from early on."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.