Ordinarily, Fenway Park fans don’t give standing ovations to opposing players in the middle of a game, but there was nothing ordinary about Austin Jackson’s effort Tuesday. The Indians center fielder leapt high to rob Boston’s Hanley Ramirez of a home run, then tumbled over the fence into the bullpen on what many are hailing as the best catch of the year in what one player could only describe as a “PlayStation game.”
The catch not only prompted a salute from many among the 37,126 in attendance at Fenway, it produced an amazed reaction from the Boston player who struck the fifth-inning flyball. Ramirez’s expression showed that he could hardly believe what had happened, and it was hard to blame him.
With the way Jackson’s legs were briefly inverted above the fence as he landed on the other side of it, the play was reminiscent of Torii Hunter’s catch attempt in the 2013 American League Championship Series. But in that case, the Tigers outfielder was unable to haul in David Ortiz’s grand slam, famously to the delight of a Boston policeman stationed in the bullpen.
Jackson actually had a close-up view of Hunter’s effort, as a fellow Detroit outfielder in that game. After Tuesday’s contest, which the Red Sox won, 12-10, on a three-run walk-off home run with two outs in the ninth inning, Jackson said, “As my feet were flipping over, for some reason I was thinking about that same play that I’ve seen with Torii.”
The Red Sox challenged Jackson’s catch, but it was upheld because his feet were over the field of play when he snared the ball. Perhaps Boston just wanted to give everyone a few more chances to watch replays of the remarkable grab.
“I just wanted to try to get back to the wall and try to read it,” Jackson said (via Cleveland.com). “I got back and I tried to get to the fence first. When I jumped and caught it, I realized I was about to take a tumble to the other side. Luckily, I was able to grab the fence a little bit and I flipped over.”
The Red Sox and Ramirez may have been in disbelief about Jackson’s catch, but it may have paled next to the significance of the victory that came on Christian Vazquez’s homer. With the win, Boston, which trailed 5-0 after two innings, moved a half-game ahead of the New York Yankees, who lost to Detroit, in the American League East.
“You can’t ask for more than that,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts said (via the Boston Herald). “This was a PlayStation game.”
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