Highlighting Straw’s game-saving catch
There’s a runner on second and the Guardians are desperately clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning. If the ball is going to be hit in the air anywhere, the club can feel confident if it’s heading toward center field. There’s a reason Myles Straw was the slam-dunk choice for the AL Gold Glove Award last season. He ranked in the 98th percentile in Statcast’s outs above average, and his elite speed (which ranked in the 94th percentile) allows him to cover insane ground in the grass. It’s a recipe for a lot of highlight-worthy plays and he did it again for the Guardians on Tuesday night. Lefty Sam Hentges was on the mound for his second appearance since coming off the injured list. He gave up a leadoff double to Spencer Torkelson, and suddenly the Tigers are pinch-hitting for left-handed hitter Akil Baddoo and sending Jonathan Schoop to the plate. Schoop faced Hentges a few times in the past, going 2-for-8 with a double. But on the first fastball he saw, Schoop sent a 103.8 mph bullet into center field. At that moment, Straw needed the perfect jump to be able to chase it down in time. “Obviously I was all-out on that ball,” Straw said. “All or nothing.” It was the approach the Guardians needed him to take. For a team that’s been struggling mightily to score runs, the club couldn’t afford to lose its lead, even if it meant just a 1-1 tie. Straw understood how crucial the play was and covered 61 feet in four seconds to make the backhanded grab, sending Schoop back to the Tigers’ dugout. Straw quickly pivoted and threw the ball in to his cutoff man as he tumbled to the ground to assure that Torkelson wasn’t going anywhere. “The play Myles made in the eighth, that’s a game changer,” manager Terry Francona said. “I think Myles is elite. I think he’s proven that. He’s one of the best.” Straw’s reaction? “I felt bad,” Straw said with a smile. “Schoop’s awesome. Me and him kind of joke around a lot and I feel like I catch all of his best swings. I mean, obviously we won the game, but that’s my guy.” Straw prides himself on his elite defense. Even if he is struggling at the plate, like he did for most of last season, he never allows it to affect his play in the field. And because of that, the Guardians never wanted to take his name out of the lineup.