TORONTO -- Kevin Pillar has made highlight-reel catches part of his regular routine and he was back to his old tricks with yet another spectacular grab during Thursday night's 9-3 victory over the Twins.
With one on and two outs in the eighth inning, Minnesota's Miguel Sano hit a deep fly ball to the gap in right-centre field. Pillar got an incredible jump on the ball and soared into the air to make the leaping grab as the inning came to an end.
Blue Jays right-hander Bo Schultz put his hands on top of his head in disbelief when Pillar managed to not only make the catch but also hang onto the ball as he crashed down on the turf at Rogers Centre. Pillar then ran off the field to a standing ovation from the 34,847 fans in attendance for the series finale.
"That was one of those times where I kind of felt like I had a little bit of intuition with the guy on the mound, with the hitter, I kind of felt like I knew where the ball was going to go before it did," Pillar said. "I just had a good jump and I'm out there to win games in whatever way possible."
Pillar has played Gold Glove-calibre defence all season and this catch likely ranks second among his top grabs of 2015. He previously had a Catch-of-the-Year candidate when he pulled off his best Spiderman impression by scaling the left field wall to take a home run away from Tampa Bay's Tim Beckham on April 15.
According to Statcast™, Pillar covered a distance of 72.7 feet to make the leaping catch. His first step took .254 seconds and he reached a top speed of 19.1 mph with a route efficiency of 97.4 percent.
Not bad at all for a guy who arrived at Spring Training earlier this year without a guaranteed starting job and at one point was projected to be a corner outfielder. He has since taken over every day duties in center field and hasn't looked back.
"I only played center field, to be honest, I had to learn how to play the corners once I got to pro ball," Pillar said. "I had never even taken a fly ball in left or right. I always believed I could play center field and I was always excited when they gave me a chance to play in the Minor Leagues in center field.
"I came up with some good guys so it was understandable we had to move around to the corners but being versatile is something I knew that would be a ticket to get to the big leagues and if I got an opportunity to play center field, I was going to run with it."