SAN DIEGO — Who knows, the way these fun-loving guys roll, you may soon be seeing the Tampa Bay Rays wearing Manuel Margot T-shirt's depicting The Catch.
Certainly, it was the greatest catch they’ve ever seen in their playoff history, one that saw Margot sprint, jump, dive, hit and roll, in their 4-2 victory Monday over the Houston Astros, pushing them closer to a World Series berth.
“Amazing, what can I say?’’ said Rays shortstop Willy Adames, who put on a fielding display of his own. “It’s an unbelievable play, a dangerous play.’’
And, hey, considering The Catch, to go along with the Home Run, why not make a T-shirt to commemorate the event?
“I hope they make a T-shirt out of that,’’ Adames said. “It would be kind of dope. That was unbelievable. That was incredible, man.’’
The Catch happened just moments after Margot hit a three-run homer in the first inning, taking advantage of All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve’s third error this season after not having a throwing error in the regular season.
CATCH OF THE YEAR.
The Astros were threatening, just as they did all game, with runners on second and third with George Springer at the plate. He hit a long, twisting, fly ball to right field. Margot, who played three years at Petco Park for the San Diego Padres but mostly in center field, ran 102 feet past the foul line, onto the warning track, to the 5-foot-railing. He leaped into the air, and at the peak of his jump, caught the ball, crashed into the top of the wall, and over, tumbling 5 1/2-feet into the concrete walkway.
“Approaching it, you don’t realize how high it is,’’ Margot said, “but it gets lower as you go over towards it. Once I started to flip, and saw it was a little bit of a further drop, that’s when I got a little scared.’’
He lay the on concrete for a brief second, only for Margot to bounce to his feet to proudly show the ball to right-field umpire Manny Gonzalez for the out.
Manuel Margot rounds the bases after a three-run home run in Game 2. (Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Sports)
“I’m good, I’m good,’’ Margot yelled.
There wasn’t one teammate surprised that he sacrificed his body chasing the ball, knowing that even if they screamed to warn him, he wasn’t about to stop.
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“I couldn’t say anything, he was going with determination,’’ Adames said. “He was going to do whatever it takes to make that catch. He knew he was putting himself in danger.
“I was just real worried. It was dangerous. But it was amazing.’’
Really, almost a microcosm of the Rays’ victory.
The Rays are up 2 games to 0, and you don’t need an analytics department to know they’re in full control, with teams leading 2-0 in best-of-seven series winning 84.7% of the time.
“These guys are in in for each other,’’ said Game 2 starter Charlie Morton, “putting their bodies on the line. They have done it all year. But that play was unbelievable. That was phenomenal.’’
“He’s been put through a lot this year,’’ Rays manager Kevin Cash said, “he’s been through the ringer. Everybody is so supportive of him and just so happy what he accomplished.’’
This is a man whose family was in a burning car this spring. Margot said an innocent bystander pulled them out before it exploded. He had nowhere to go in Florida when COVID-19 shut down the sports world and lived with Adames, with the two taking turns cooking. Two weeks after returning to baseball, his father, Enmanuel Margot, died in the Dominican Republic from the coronavirus.
“It’s definitely been tough, starting early in the year with my car on fire, and it exploded,’’ he said. “I’m lucky to be here to tell you about it. My dad passed away. You got to stay positive and find a way to move on.
“I’m very happy to get back here.’’
Yep, back at home where he played for three years, but never became the star the Padres anticipated. He hit only three home runs last season in 212 plate appearances at Petco Park, and was traded to the Rays in February. The power was absent in Florida, too, hitting just one home run in 47 games.
Now, here he is, with three homers in eight postseason games.
Yeah, the catch was cool, Margot said, but sorry, he’ll take the home run as his proudest accomplishment of the day. Besides, it was a whole lot less painful.
“Definitely, the home run,’’ he said laughing.
“The home run didn’t hurt.’’
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