Sandoval, Crawford collaborate on circus catch
Third baseman knocks ball up in air, then shortstop dives to snare it
HOUSTON -- Broadway's best choreographer couldn't have planned anything superior to the play that third baseman Pablo Sandoval and shortstop Brandon Crawford recorded Tuesday night for the Giants.As Giants right-hander Sergio Romo said, "Baseball's pretty amazing. You never know what you're going to see next." With two outs and the Astros' Jimmy Paredes at second base in the first inning, Jason Castro lifted a fly ball toward foul territory outside the left-field line. Sandoval had the best angle on the ball as he, Crawford and left fielder Gregor Blanco converged. But Sandoval overran the ball, which bounced off the heel of his glove as he leaped and reached backward to try to make the grab. Sandoval explained that he lost the ball in the Minute Maid Park lights.
"So I just guessed [where it was]," he said.Since Sandoval couldn't grasp the ball, he did the next best thing: He kept the play alive by batting the ball upward, falling as he did so, as if he were a volleyball player executing a "dig."
Said Sandoval, "I tried to just hit it high."Sandoval had no idea that Crawford was nearby.
"I couldn't believe he was there," Sandoval said."It was a popup in no-man's land," Crawford said. "If it's a little bit more over his head, I'm calling him off." Hovering near the foul line and about five feet away from Sandoval, Crawford took a couple of quick steps before launching himself forward and clutching the ball with two hands as he fell. "I reacted. I saw the ball in the air," Crawford said. "It was a little see-saw effect. You didn't know what would happen," said right-hander Matt Cain, who watched the drama unfold from the mound. The Giants were properly impressed. "It might be the best play I've ever seen," Romo said. "[Sandoval] smacked it twice in the air, then homeboy [Crawford] comes down diving. It's pretty sweet." "I don't know if I've ever seen that," said manager Bruce Bochy, who entered professional baseball in 1975. Even the typically humble Crawford gave himself a positive review. "It looked better on the replay," he said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.