On a day when they had their backs to the wall, Mark Canha got the wall to work Oakland’s way.
Canha stole a page out of the workbook of A’s left fielder of yore Joe Rudi with a leaping catch against the left field wall in the third Inning, hitting his shoulder and a bit of his back against the wall with a catch that saved two runs.
Without that catch, a four-run lead might have been halved and the game might have been altered. Instead, starter Chris Bassitt made that catch the first of 12 consecutive outs as the A’s carried a shutout into the eighth inning, ultimately pulling out a 5-3 win when Jake Diekman came on in relief of closer Liam Hendriks to get Major League RBI leader Jose Abreu to ground out to Nate Orf at second base.
“Mark is very underrated; that ball was hit well. I thought it was going to hit the wall,” shortstop Marcus Semien said. “So did the runners. It would have been even better if he’d thrown the ball to second base. We might have gotten a double play or even a triple play, but that was an amazing catch.”
For Bassitt, who was leaping around the mound after the catch was made, the catch, or The Catch, depending on how you feel about it, was Topic A after the game.
“A game changer. A game saver,” Bassitt said. “That’s an automatic two runs if he doesn’t catch it. I saw TA (Tim Anderson) basically half way to third base, and I said, `That ain’t good.’ He came up with this ridiculous friggin’ catch and truly saved my hide.”
Nick Madrigal, perhaps trying to make up for a first inning error that allowed the A’s first two runs to score, opened the third with a single. Anderson followed with a single. And Yoan Moncada wasn’t waiting around. He jumped on a Bassitt changeup and sent a screamer to the wall. Madrigal and Anderson needed no convincing; they went into full sprint mode.
So did Canha.
“I felt I had a bead on it,” Canha said of the play that saw him race from left to left-center. “I was kind of measuring it up as I was running toward it. About three-quarters of the way there, I decided to go for it. And I decided I had a chance. It was just kind of instinctual. I timed it well. It was a tough play; Thank god I got it done.”
The Rudi catch is something iconic for followers of the A’s. He went up against the wall in Cincinnati in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the 1972 World Series. It basically saved the day for Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter. Canha and A’s manager Bob Melvin both grew up the Bay Area and have seen the replay of that one countless times.
“That was exactly what I thought,” Melvin said of a comparison with the Rudi catch. “It’s almost identical play, just a different wall. This one was padded. I don’t think that one was padded back then.”
Canha got back to the Oakland clubhouse to see Twitter users posting video of the catches side-by-side.
“It’s pretty cool to be compared to that,” Canha said. “Let’s hope we get to the World Series and I’ll make another one in the World Series.”
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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