It might be easy to overlook the impact of a handful of great defensive plays in a one-sided game with plenty of other subplots, but Orioles manager Brandon Hyde and starting pitcher Andrew Cashner were not about to let that happen.
The show Keon Broxton put on in center field in the fourth inning kept Cashner clean in what was still a tight game, and the spectacular diving play Rule 5 acquisition Richie Martin made in the fifth inning had everybody in awe.
Martin went airborne to snag a hot shot off the bat of former Oriole Tim Beckham and landed on the outfield grass, but somehow got to his feet and made a strong throw to prevent a leadoff single. The play became even more important when the next two batters singled, but Cashner settled down to strike out the top two hitters of the Seattle Mariners batting order to get out of trouble.
“That’s up there, no doubt,’’ Hyde said of Martin’s play. “He’s so athletic to be able to get up on his feet so quick and put something on that throw from deep in the six hole. Not many guys can make that play.”
Cashner also was impressed, but said after the game that he’s been impressed with Martin since he first saw him in spring training.
“Richie to me, never playing above Double-A, just the consistency that he’s brought with his defense,’’ Cashner said. “Not just today, but every day. He’s been very consistent for us at shortstop. It’s been impressive and fun to watch a guy excel like that with his glove. Pretty cool.”
Broxton showed his tremendous range in center field on back-to-back running catches to rob Domingo Santana and Daniel Vogelbach of extra-base hits. The first took him into the wall in right-center field and the second forced him off his feet well into left-center.
“That’s what I’m out there for,’’ Broxton said. “I’m out there to make plays, to do things for my pitcher. I take a lot of pride in that. … I’m prepared every pitch. I even try to call pitches while I’m out there, and I’m always ready. I’m glad I could help out Cashner today. He did a great job, stayed on the edges and made a lot of great pitches.”
The feeling was mutual.
“Keon definitely changed the game with those two plays out in the outfield,’’ Cashner said.