A's outfielder goes fully horizontal for one catch, then twists, turns to snag ball at wall
By Trevor Hass
OAKLAND -- When Billy Burns robbed Delino DeShields of extra bases with a highlight-reel diving catch in the sixth inning of the A's 7-0 win over the Rangers at the Coliseum on Thursday, it was unlikely he would be one-upped with a better defensive play the rest of the game. But he may have been just two innings later -- by himself.
Burns, who also went 2-for-3 with two singles, a walk and a sacrifice fly, made a remarkable catch to end the eighth inning, slamming into the center-field wall to take a hit away from Carlos Corporan.
Burns has now hit safely in 14 of 15 games and leads American League rookies with 15 multihit games. While his offense helped the A's both take a lead early and pull away late, his most valuable and impressive contribution was his defense.
On his first defensive gem, with the A's holding a 1-0 lead, Burns sprinted to his right and extended fully horizontal to make the diving snag. Statcast™ tracked Burns reaching a top speed of 20.70 mph, while covering 86.65 feet with a 98.69 route efficiency. His first step was tracked at 0.31 seconds.
"When you have a tight game and you're getting a well-pitched game, it adds to the momentum when you're playing defense on top of it," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's just getting better, and to do it at a big league level can be tough to do for a guy we really didn't envision being here until maybe September.
"We knew coming in he could impact the game and put the ball in play, getting on base and basestealing. Now you see him getting deeper at-bats ... you see him making big plays."
A's fans responded with a loud, standing ovation in appreciation of one of the team's better defensive plays of the season. Little did they know there would be an encore shortly thereafter.
On Burns' twisting catch at the wall, he said he initially turned the wrong way and lost track of the ball. He spun, contorted his body and reeled in the ball a few inches from the top of the fence.
Statcast™ tracked his top speed at 17.77 mph, while covering 75.90 feet with a 98.04 route efficiency. His first step was tracked at 0.63 seconds.
"When you add the wall factor in there, it's always tougher," Burns said, "so I'd say that one was more challenging."
"When they play great defense like that, it makes for a long day," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "They took some hits away from us."
While Burns dazzled in the outfield, A's starter Scott Kazmir -- who tossed eight innings of one-hit ball -- looked on in amazement.
"That's unbelievable," Kazmir said. "That right there gets you going as a pitcher. Someone makes a play like that, you just want to go out there and return the favor and get those guys back into the dugout. He had a heck of a game."
Trevor Hass is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.