Matt Wieters ended Wednesday night’s Orioles victory over Tampa Bay in 1.75 seconds.
At least, that’s what manager Buck Showalter timed the catcher’s catch and throw to second base to nab the Rays’ Kelly Johnson stealing and seal a 4-2 win at Camden Yards.
As Jose Lobaton swung and missed on a 98-mph fastball from right-hander Tommy Hunter with runners on first and third, Johnson took off from first. Wieters rifled a throw to the first base side of second base. Shortstop J.J. Hardy ran across the base and caught Wieters’ throw on one hop, applying a quick tag to Johnson’s knee.
“That's sick,” manager Buck Showalter said. “You can't do that. He's had a few of those. How about the tag by Hardy? I've got to tell you, he's the best tagger I've ever seen. He does it text book where he starts in front and goes to the straddle and lets the ball travel. He catches the ball moving toward the runner. Most people catch it moving up. It's impossible.”
Wieters has now thrown out 21 would-be base stealers this year and has caught 39 percent of runners attempting to steal on him.
While Wieters’ throw was a hot topic of conversation postgame, he — like his manager — put just as much emphasis on Hardy’s tag at second. If the ball had gotten by Hardy, Rays designated hitter Wil Myers would have easily scored from third to cut the lead to one, and Johnson could have moved to third as the potential tying run. But Hardy deftly moved around the bag and ended the game.
“I’ve seen him do that before,” Wieters said. “He spoils you a little bit as a catcher because if you know you just get in the vicinity, he’s going to have a pretty good chance of making a play for you.”
Hardy and Wieters were both Gold Glove winners last season, and they showcased part of the reason why the Orioles are on pace for the highest fielding percentage and fewest errors in a season in baseball history.
“Wheaty’s got a hose, and J.J.’s got some of the best hands in the game,” Hunter said. “It was pretty awesome. I was pretty pumped, actually. ‘Atta boy, Wheaty,’ I think I said that and a few other choice words afterwards. I hope they didn’t get on TV.”