Yelich defies odds with terrific diving catch

Marlins outfielder also enjoys big night at plate with 4 RBIs vs. Mets

Yelich defies odds with terrific diving catch

NEW YORK -- Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, a National League Gold Glove Award winner in left field in 2014, showed on Thursday night that he also can handle center field.

In the second inning of a 6-4 win over the Mets at Citi Field, Yelich made a diving play to rob Jacob deGrom of a hit, and in the process saved at least a couple of runs.

"I was kind of in on him a little bit and he hit a line drive," Yelich said. "I was able to just lay out and make the catch. Good thing I caught that one, because if it gets by me it might be an inside-the-parker because I'm pretty far up there and he's a good athlete."

Yelich on his big game

According to Statcast™, the exit velocity of the drive was 97 mph, and it had a launch angle of 12 degrees. Yelich made the play look easy, but it was anything but.

Based on analytical data, deGrom's liner would be a hit 95.3 percent of the time.

Overall, Yelich had a big night, collecting three hits, including a three-run homer and he finished with four RBIs.

Yelich's three-run smash

"Got some great jumps in center, and big hits for us," manager Don Mattingly said. "He gets us on the board, and gets us those extra runs."

Yelich was moved to center field only because Marcell Ozuna bruised his left hand while making a diving catch on Wednesday night.

Mattingly said he prefers going with Yelich in center when Ozuna is out. However, on Wednesday, after Ozuna exited in the fourth inning, Ichiro Suzuki moved from right field to center, with Jeff Francoeur taking over in right.

On Thursday, the same three outfielders were in the lineup, but Francoeur moved to left, with Ichiro in right.

"[Yelich's] jumps were really good," Mattingly said. "And he's not afraid to play cheap either. He was playing cheap right there. He gets really good jumps in center field."

The night wasn't completely smooth in center for Yelich. With one out in the sixth inning, on Michael Conforto's liner to left center, Yelich was under the ball, but dropped it for an error.

"That stuff happens. It took a bad hop up there," Yelich joked. "It was one of those things I think I overran it, took my eye off the ball, and it just hit me in the heel of the glove."

Marlins' double play

The error didn't cost Miami because Jose Urena got James Loney to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play.

"Fortunately Urena was able to make a good pitch, get a double play, and we were able to laugh about it after," Yelich said.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.