Center fielder robs Tribe's Ramirez of extra bases with full-extension catch
By Keegan Matheson
TORONTO -- Kevin Pillar's defensive heroics were on display again Monday night as the Blue Jays' center fielder extended to rob Jose Ramirez of extra bases with a highlight-reel diving catch in the top of the sixth inning of Toronto's 4-2 win over Cleveland.
Ramirez's 388-foot line drive left the bat at 101.5 mph, according to Statcast™, forcing Pillar back toward the wall in a full sprint. Pillar covered 64 feet in 4.6 seconds to make the play.
With the Blue Jays leading, 4-0, and two outs in the inning, the play saved at least one run with Carlos Santana standing at third base, and may have also prevented a second run from Edwin Encarnacion, who walked in the previous at-bat.
For Encarnacion, who was making his return to Toronto after playing eight seasons with the Blue Jays, Pillar's grab was nothing new.
"I'm not surprised," Encarnacion said. "I've been watching him for the last four years. The way he's been doing that is unbelievable."
Pillar was positioned 313 feet from home plate on the pitch to Ramirez, as hitters have a hard time elevating the ball vs. Stroman. Pillar's average distance from home plate in 2017 is 324 feet, which further added to the degree of difficulty.
"It's one of the best plays I've seen in a long time -- probably ever," said Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor. "He's one of the best out there. They call him Superman for a reason."
Pillar prides himself on the first step he takes after the ball leaves the bat, but once he's put himself in position, its all about timing. For Pillar, the instinct to leave his feet at exactly the right moment is not a sport-specific play.
"I can't stress enough, I don't think it's something you can learn on a baseball field," he said. "That opportunity doesn't present itself a ton when you're only playing baseball. I think that's something you learn playing football, playing basketball, playing other sports. I pride myself on being an athlete first [who] chose baseball."
Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.