NEW YORK -- A fresh dirt stain decorating his right leg, Pirates left fielder Matt Joyce rose to his feet and raised his glove, a confirmation of a play that elicited a collective "Oh!" from the Citi Field crowd Thursday night.Moments earlier, Joyce lay face down on the warning track,
NEW YORK -- A fresh dirt stain decorating his right leg, Pirates left fielder Matt Joyce rose to his feet and raised his glove, a confirmation of a play that elicited a collective "Oh!" from the Citi Field crowd Thursday night.
Moments earlier, Joyce lay face down on the warning track, having just extended his body to complete a highlight-reel running catch and rob Curtis Granderson of a two-run hit in the eighth inning. It was part of a noteworthy night for Joyce, who filled in for the injured Starling Marte and also recorded two hits in the Pirates' 6-4 loss to the Mets.
"I haven't really played much at Citi Field, so I kind of had to figure out where everything was quick," Joyce said. "So I peeked down when the ball was in the air, and I realized I had a little bit more room and came down with the ball."
According to Statcast™, Joyce reached a max speed of 18.6 mph and covered a distance of 90.4 feet to make the sensational catch.
"Fabulous play helping us, not allowing the other team to continue scoring runs," Marte said through a translator.
The grab kept the Mets' lead at four runs, and Andrew McCutchen promptly led off the ninth with his 10th homer of the season. And after Jung Ho Kang followed with a double, Joyce moved him to third with a double of his own. Kang scored when John Jaso grounded out.
The Pirates couldn't muster any more runs, falling to 33-33. But if it weren't for Joyce, the Mets might have taken a smoother road to victory.
In fact, he put the Pirates on the board in the eighth inning with a tape-measure home run, the 100th of his career. The ball was projected to land 444 feet away from home plate, with an exit velocity of 108.4 mph, according to Statcast™.
For Joyce, who was battling a 1-for-17 slump before the homer, it was a memorable night. He said he had received "a bunch" of congratulatory texts from friends and family.
"It's such a good feeling, man. This game's so hard," Joyce said. "There's so many ups and downs and struggles, and to kind of walk away, no matter what happens, to know that I hit 100 home runs in the Major Leagues -- it's a special accomplishment for me."
Joshua Needelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.