Padres' Amarista provides key contributions
The Sports Xchange
MLB Team Report - San Diego Padres - INSIDE PITCH
Alexi Amarista is proving to be a valuable commodity for the San Diego Padres this season.
No matter where manager Bud Black puts the diminutive utility man, it seems Amarista makes a play.
"When we got Lexi, and this goes back to my conversations with the (Los Angeles) Angels people, they said he could play anywhere on the field and you could feel good about it," Black said. "Whether it was second, short, third or any position in the outfield, we've used him as much in the outfield as we have in the infield. He's sure-handed, good routes, nice arm."
Amarista didn't start the game Wednesday, but he played a starring role in the Padres' come-from-behind win, 5-4, 10-inning win over the Minnesota Twins.
With San Diego trailing 4-3 in the top of the ninth, Amarista came to the plate with runners on first and second and no outs. He laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt that moved both runners into scoring position. The tying run scored on a sacrifice fly one batter later.
However, it was his work in center field in the bottom of the ninth that ended up saving the game.
With the game still tied, Minnesota threatening with two on and two outs, Amarista ran down a line drive by Eduardo Escobar, making an over the shoulder catch on a dead sprint to send the game to extra innings.
Ahead of Escobar in the count 0-2, the Padres moved all three of their outfielders in. However, the shortstop lashed an off-speed pitch toward the gap in right-center. Amarista got a great jump and looked like a wide receiver tracking the ball into his glove.
"When he hit it, I thought, 'Game over,'" Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We just saw the whole outfield move in with two strikes, and he moved way in. When that ball was hit, we thought he had no chance to run that one down."
Padres left fielder Seth Smith got a bird's-eye view of the play Amarista made, setting up Smith to hit a game-winning homer in the 10th.
"It was a great catch. He had to cover a ton of ground to get there," Smith said. "I could see he and the ball and kind of where they were going to meet. I could tell he was going to get to it. I didn't know if he was going to be able to catch it, but he was going to be around the same place as the ball landed."
Although Amarista's batting average is just .237, it was plays like Wednesday's catch that make him invaluable to the Padres.
"A play like today doesn't surprise me," Black said. "It's a hell of a play, there's no doubt about that, but you expect great plays out of Lexi."
MLB Team Report - San Diego Padres - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Won one
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