Monday night, the Tampa Bay Rays were looking to inch a little closer to the Texas Rangers for the second Wild Card spot. With the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays not ready to give up on their back-and-forth battle for the division, and being that it’s almost certain that one of the two aforementioned teams will get away with the first Wild Card spot while the other will take home the division, the only hope left for both the Rays and Baltimore Orioles (whom Tampa Bay faced last night), among other teams (see five teams within 5.5 games of Texas with a full month of baseball left) is that the Rangers give in and let the 3-year-old second Wild Card slip out of their hands.
Earlier Monday, the Rangers lost to the San Diego Padres 7-0, so there was a surplus of teams trying to gain ground. Both the Rays and Orioles were within that group as they battled each other in Baltimore. Tampa Bay was able to get away with the victory, shrinking the Rangers’ lead down to 3.5 games. But that wasn’t the game story. Kevin Kiermaier was, and boy was he.
Kiermaier is already known for completing rather acrobatic plays, including the one shown below, where the 25-year-old rising star robbed already-established star Prince Fielder of a homer in a game on August 14th.
On Monday, in the very first inning, Kiermaier decided to make his best Mike Trout impersonation by leaping over the right-center field fence at Camden Yards to ‘hijack’, as MLB.com rightfully described it, a homer from Manny Machado. Sit back and watch Kiermaier cover a total of 62.9 feet worth of ground to make the jaw-dropping catch.
Kiermaier is making a rather strong case to win the Gold Glove award out in center, and when all is said and done this season, Rays fans are going to have something special to look forward to next season. Kiermaier is certainly making a name of himself, and watching this kid use his speed day in and day out to cause damage to the opposing team is more than fascinating. The Indiana-native leads the majors in triples with 12, and although his on-base percentage is not the best, when he gets on base and decides to steal, he’s been successful 16 of 19 times.
And then there’s his defense. But you already know about that, don’t ya?