In the game of baseball, reactions must be made in split seconds. One beat too slow and a batter can reach a base, hit a home run or worse, score.
J.P. Crawford used exactly two seconds.
One, spent diving toward the left to catch the hard ground ball off the bat of Jeimer Candelario. And the next was used to quickly gain footing, spin-jump and chuck the ball from shortstop to first base. The average person could do one of those things properly.
As if perfectly planned, Mariners teammate Austin Nola was already in perfect position on the other side of the diamond, waiting for the ball.
With a foot planted on first base, and his arm stretched out to its capacity, Nola extended his glove and caught the ball perfectly. Almost in disbelief to the people watching and to himself.
“I got to the bag and it looked like he threw it over his head like a Hakeem Olajuwon hook shot,” Nola said. “It was unbelievable. It just came out of nowhere. I was surprised with how much juice it had on the throw. Never seen a throw like that. I’m going to re-watch it and see how it played out because I was so focused — when I saw the ball, I was like, alright I’m going to stretch as hard as I can.’”
The Tigers asked for a replay review, seemingly thinking that couldn’t have just happened. But replay reviews showed they had Candelario was a step short.
Out went Candelario and with him, any chance the Tigers had at making a comeback run, ultimately falling to Seattle, 3-2.
“The play J.P. Crawford made tonight is about as good as any play you’re going to see from shortstop,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais, who said Crawford earned a day off tomorrow because of the play. “It wasn’t just the physical ability, but the internal clock of knowing, ‘I have to get rid of this ball at any chance of getting the guy out and get rid of it quickly.’ He did just a phenomenal job.”
It was a play that not only stunned viewers but left teammates far beyond impressed.
“J.P. playing short was phenomenal,” center fielder Mallex Smith said. “I had to run in and smack him on the butt to tell him good job. It was a really good play.”
A former shortstop, Nola knew how difficult that play was to make.
“You really appreciate those plays right there because it is just a reaction and he did it,” Nola said. “Unbelievable. Props to him.”