ARLINGTON, Texas – The defensive deke play that Adam Jones made Saturday night to fool Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski on the basepaths in the second inning of the Orioles' 7-4 win over Texas got lost in Baltimore's offensive outburst, but it might have been one of the most important plays of the night.
The Orioles were leading 3-0 when Pierzynski hit a leadoff single in the second inning. Two batters later, Elvis Andrus lined a ball to shallow center field.
As Pierzynski waited between first and second to see if the ball would ball in center, Jones lifted his glove above his head as if he was going to make the catch, causing Pierzynski to take a step back toward first.
That was the edge Jones needed. Andrus' ball dropped, but Jones scooped it up on one hop and threw to shortstop J.J. Hardy in time to get Pierzynski for a force out.
"That play works about 1 in 200,000 attempts," Jones said." I've seen other outfielders do it. I've never really done it before. Randomly worked in a big situation, alleviated a situation that could have been."
Had Jones simply let the ball drop, the Rangers would have had runners at first and second with one out and the tying run at the plate. David Murphy immediately followed with a single, so it could have saved a run and prevented a rally.
"It's more of a reaction, having some fun with it," Jones said." You rarely get people. But once I [had] seen him take that step back, because I was looking at him and the ball, I don't know how both of them. I [had] seen him take a giant step back and I caught it and got rid of it quick. My shortstop days, you know what I mean?"
Jones, a former shortstop, made his sixth outfield assist of the season, third most among AL center fielders behind Minnesota's Aaron Hicks (9) and Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain (7).
"Jonesy made a heads up play in center field," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "As much as he wants to play shortstop, I'll hear about that a lot. I told him he's got to jump ahead of the runner. He was wondering why J.J. didn't try to turn it. We'll hear that for a while, which I'm happy to hear about."