MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Statcast of the Day: Gomez's clutch grab

Statcast of the Day: Gomez's clutch grab

HOUSTON -- It's too early in the season for any game to be considered must-win, but, undoubtedly, the Rangers needed their 10-4 victory in Houston on Thursday.

Carlos Gomez did his part to make sure that happened.

The outfielder showed life at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a key double that led off a three-run Rangers eighth inning. But his defense proved to be even more valuable, especially in a crucial situation in the seventh when the Astros' hottest hitter came to the plate with the bases loaded.

"That situation, bases loaded, you're not thinking," Gomez said. "I went after the ball. I took a good read to the ball."

Normally, a bases-loaded situation with Marwin Gonzalez at the plate wouldn't cause any more angst than any other player hitting in the lower half of the lineup. But entering that at-bat, Gonzalez was 2-for-2 with a home run on the day, adding to his dominant numbers against the Rangers over the course of the four-game set -- six hits in nine at-bats (.667), four home runs and 10 RBIs.

So any contact by Gonzalez could have been costly. And it nearly was, if not for Gomez's diving catch in mid-center field that turned what may have been another late-game rally for the Astros into a semi-harmless sacrifice fly.

"Special play by him today," manager Jeff Banister said. "He plays deep and comes in very well too. He knows how to lay out for balls."

According to Statcast™, this diving grab was a 5-star play, Gomez's first of the year in five attempts. The catch probability was 14 percent, making it one of the best plays of the season. Gomez was 0-for-29 in 5-star attempts last year.

Adding to the impressive nature was Gomez's positioning. He was playing 335 feet from home plate when Gonzalez made contact, which, while notably deep compared to where other center fielders play, was typical for Gomez. Among regular center fielders, Gomez's average starting position of 331 feet is the deepest. The league average is 318 feet.

"It's not that I play deep -- I play the chart," Gomez said. "I just took a good read to the ball. I know it's risky play and a tough one. I went after it and put my glove in the right position."

Gomez's contributions spilled over to the offensive side, too, a welcome turn of events considering the difficulties the Rangers encountered during the four-game set with the Astros.

Gomez's leadoff double off Luke Gregerson in the eighth, which was followed by Joey Gallo's ninth home run of the season, was, according to Statcast™, hit at 111.3 mph. That was Gomez's hardest exit velocity on any batted ball in the Statcast™ era.

Gallo's two-run home run

Gomez's hit contributed to a double-digit hit total for the Rangers, who were outscored by Houston 24-10 in the first three games of the series.

"We still have months to play," Gomez said. "I think this team will be good the rest of the season. We're not doing the best right now, and the division is right there. We played a good game today. Just keep going."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.