Austin Jackson Makes Catch of the Season, Backup Catcher Hits Walk-off Homer in the Craziest Game of the Season

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Wednesday August 2nd, 2017

If only the Indians had kept Austin Jackson in centerfield, perhaps he’d have scaled the Green Monster and robbed Christian Vasquez of his walk-off three-run homer. It wouldn’t have been beyond belief in one of the wildest games of the 2017 season.

Somehow, a game started by Chris Sale and Carlos Carrasco ended up with a 12–10 final score and featured the best defensive play of the year, a blown save by Craig Kimbrel, a game-saving drop-three-and-run strikeout and a walk-off homer to cap it.

The Indians torpedoed Chris Sale’s ERA by scoring five runs in the first two innings and clubbing him for a grand total of seven earned runs over five frames, his worst outing of the 2017 season. Sale struck out only five hitters, his lowest total in any game this season, and allowed eight hits and two home runs. Should these teams meet in the playoffs, replays of the Indians’ dominance will loop before Sale’s potential Game 1 start.

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By now, you’ve probably seen what will be recognized as the catch of the year. If not, watch it. Then watch it again. Then inhale it. Close your eyes and become one with Austin Jackson as he scales the Fenway fences to rob Hanley Ramirez of a home run and place himself into the rich history of the hallowed grounds.

Pretty fantastic, right? Jackson’s catch was the game’s top highlight, but it wasn’t the end of the action. Having already erased an early 5–0 deficit, the Red Sox charged in front of the Indians in the bottom of the sixth after new acquisition Eduardo Nuñez hit a bases-clearing double to give Boston a 9–7 lead.

The eighth inning witnessed the Boston debut of reliever Addison Reed, acquired yesterday from the Mets, who subsequently surrendered a solo home run to Carlos Santana in his first at-bat. I’m sure the Boston fans will warm to Reed eventually … maybe.

But that all paled in comparison to Francisco Lindor’s achievement in the ninth inning: hitting a home run off of Kimbrel.

It was Kimbrel’s fourth blown save of the season and the fourth home run he’s allowed this year. The Indians then scored the go-ahead run on a Kimbrel wild pitch … a problem that would plague Indians reliever Cody Allen later in the inning.

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With two outs and Rafael Devers on first, Allen would strike out Mitch Moreland, who helped bring the Red Sox back into the game with a three-run homer, on a breaking pitch that ate up catcher Yan Gomes. Moreland wasn’t sure that he had gone on the check swing, so he briefly waited in the box before the third base umpire signaled his swing had crossed the plate. While Gomes searched for the ball, Moreland darted for first and would represent the winning run despite striking out. That set the stage for Vasquez, a backup catcher with one home run to his credit all season. After taking a wild pitch that advanced Devers to third and Moreland to second, Vasquez punished an Allen fastball for a walk-off three-run homer in a game that featured three ties and four lead changes.

Let these teams meet again once October arrives.

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