"Hey, scoot over Cespedes," Tribe catcher Yan Gomes said with a grin. "Now we've got Mike Aviles throwing balls like that."
Following the Indians' 3-2 victory over the White Sox, Aviles laughed when told of the catcher's comment. Gomes was referencing A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who has been hogging the highlight shows this season with tape-measure tosses.
Aviles wanted to make something clear.
"I'm definitely not Cespedes, by any means," Aviles said. "Hey, sometimes you get lucky, right?"
The play in question unfolded in the second with no outs and Conor Gillaspie on first base for Chicago. White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham then sent a 2-2 pitch from Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer deep down the left-field line. Aviles, who is an infielder by trade and outfielder on a part-time basis, knew immediately that the fly ball would be near the chalk line.
The angle of the ball might have led to a ground-rule double. Aviles made sure that did not happen by tracking it down on a dead sprint before bracing himself against the wall. Aviles prepared to throw it to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, but glanced toward the infield and saw Gillaspie was still far off first base.
Aviles did not realize that Gillaspie had slipped on the basepaths, but the left fielder certainly saw the opportunity for a double play.
"I was like, 'I've got to get there. I've got to try to make that play,'" Aviles said. "I didn't want it to bounce and probably go in the stands. So I was trying to get there quick. I got the ball. Once I got the ball, I had every intention of lobbing it in to Cabby and just playing out the play the way you normally do.
"But when I looked up, I saw him. He was lightly jogging, and I was like, 'Let me just let it go and see what happens here.' Luckily, I was able to throw it in the right area."
The throw reached first baseman Carlos Santana on the fly and narrowly beat Gillaspie's retreat. The crowd inside Progressive Field erupted and Aviles celebrated with a shout in left field as he walked back to his position. Bauer allowed two more singles in the inning, making the double play all the more critical to Cleveland's win.
"That was a heck of a play," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "The runner slipped a little bit, but Mike caught it and his momentum took him into the barrier there, and he used his momentum coming off and made a perfect throw. As the inning unfolded, that was huge."
Gomes loved watching it all unfold.
"That was pretty impressive," said the catcher. "It's a pretty crazy play, because he makes a throw like that and throws it away, everybody's like, 'Why is he throwing it?' I probably know that more than anybody, being an aggressive thrower."
Aviles might not be Cespedes, but he enjoyed hearing Gomes rave about the play.
"Yan doesn't give me many compliments," Aviles said with a smirk. "But that's because I rag him from time to time, as a big brother should."