Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
Cleveland Indians center fielder Austin Jackson made an absolutely spectacular catch into Fenway Park’s bullpen on August 1st. With Cleveland up 7-5 in the bottom of the fifth, Hanley Ramirez absolutely crushed a pitch over the middle of the plate to left-center field with the bases empty, but Jackson leapt over the bullpen fence and made the catch.
Let’s break this play down in a little bit more detail — all screen shots from the play are taken from the above tweet, provided by Major League Baseball — from when the catcher initially set-up, to the incredibly athletic play that the 30-year old made in Boston’s bullpen.
For starters, the catcher initially set up on the outside corner — below and outside of the strike zone.
Instead, Dan Otero’s pitch drifted into the strike zone at about mid-thigh on Ramierzright in Ramirez’s wheelhouse.
A pitch middle away has been where Ramirez has had the most success this season.
Side note: Why would any right handed pitcher throw low and away to Ramirez? Keep throwing the pitches inside, it doesn’t matter if it’s low or high, and he won’t punish those poor, undeserving, baseballs.
As we already know, this ball was headed to Boston’s bullpen; but what is kind of hard to see is the incredible amount of ground Jackson covered to get in position to make a play. He practically started in dead center field.
Jackson quickly moved to the fence at the pen.
While the speed and route to the ball were fantastic, arguably the most incredible part of the play is the fact that Jackson didn’t hit his head on the turf on the other side of the fence. He was able to keep his body, all 205 pounds of it, off of his head…with only one hand.
The 30-year old center field kept his head off of the ground while still holding onto the ball to record the out and keep a run off of the board.
Despite the theatrics from Jackson, Cleveland’s bullpen was unable to hold onto its two run lead. Boston overcame a one-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning with a three-run walkoff dinger by Christian Vazquez.