Statcast: Conforto's sliding catch stifles Nats' last rally
By Andrew Simon
A busy Wednesday across the Major Leagues brought highlight-reel catches, sizzling throws, soaring home runs and daring baserunning. Statcast™ was there to track it all and provide the data behind the moments.
Here are five plays that demand a closer look:
Conforto slides to the rescue
As a prospect, the Mets' Michael Conforto was known for his bat, but the rookie left fielder has shown he has some defensive chops as well. The latest example came in the eighth inning of Wednesday night's game at Washington. After the Mets rallied for a 4-2 lead in the top of the frame, a Bryce Harper homer pulled the Nationals back within one. Anthony Rendon's two-out bunt single then brought Clint Robinson to the plate as the potential tying run against Tyler Clippard. Robinson looped a soft fly ball to left-center that appeared to be trouble, but Conforto took his first step in 0.349 seconds and raced 62.088 feet into the gap, reaching 19.243 mph. Conforto slid and grabbed the ball just before it hit the turf, ending the threat. Statcast™ tracked his route efficiency at 98.309 percent, the second-best number he's recorded, and the Mets completed the huge three-game sweep, 5-3, to claim a seven-game division lead.
J. Upton's cannon
The Rockies got off to a quick start against the Padres' James Shields, putting runners on first and second with no outs in the top of the first inning. Carlos Gonzalez followed with a ground ball through the left side of the infield that looked like an RBI single, with Charlie Blackmon reaching 20.41 mph on his trip from second to home. But left fielder Justin Upton charged the ball and fired a strike to catcher Derek Norris, who put the tag on Blackmon, a big early play in the Padres' 11-4 win. Upton's 87.399-mph throw -- his second-hardest recorded this season -- traveled 192.958 feet to give him his eighth outfield assist.
Colby crushes one
The Astros, who entered Wednesday with a one-game division lead over the Rangers, got an early lift from Colby Rasmus in Oakland. Rasmus emphatically provided the game's first run in the top of the second, when the A's Aaron Brooks fed him a 93.88 mph fastball on a 3-2 count. Rasmus pummeled the pitch into the second deck for a 1-0 lead, achieving an exit velocity of 109.87 mph and a projected distance of 443.94 feet. Both were personal bests this season, and he started the Astros on their way to an 11-5 win, allowing them to increase their division lead to two games.
Gordon on the move
In the bottom of the third inning of the Marlins' 5-2 home win over the Brewers, Miami's Dee Gordon was on first base, with Tom Koehler on second, when Martin Prado hit a routine single up the middle. That doesn't sound like a recipe for two runs, but in this case, it was. A 3-2 count with two outs allowed Gordon to take a huge lead, putting him well on his way to second by the time Prado made contact. Gordon's speed and aggressiveness took over from there. Reaching 19.706 mph, he never hesitated in racing all the way around to score. From the time Prado made contact, it took only 8.717 seconds for Gordon to cross the plate.
Coghlan greets the fans
Though the Cubs suffered a 4-3 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, they got one of their finest plays of the season in the process, as right fielder Chris Coghlan put his body on the line to make a catch. On a Tommy Pham foul ball in the fifth inning, Coghlan covered a distance of 81.902 feet, with a route efficiency of 98.742 percent, as he headed toward a section of seats jutting out close to the line in deep right. He caught the ball right at the low wall there, and unable to halt his momentum, flipped headfirst into the crowd. Fortunately, Coghlan both held on to the ball and stayed injury-free, later saying: "I thought I was going to catch it all the way. You just don't want to get hurt and hit your face on one of those seats."
Sano saves the day
Twins rookie sensation Miguel Sano came through in the clutch on Wednesday when he blasted a pinch-hit home run in the 12th inning to lift Minnesota to a 3-2 victory over Kansas City. Sano's 447-foot shot, which had an exit velocity of 106.9 mph, had a launch angle of 34 degrees and a projected hang time of 6.8 seconds. Sano's heroics helped the Twins move to 1 1/2 games behind the Rangers for the second American League Wild Card spot, as Texas was topped by Seattle, 6-0.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.