Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/26/13
The Padres and Brewers combined for 18 runs on 29 hits Thursday afternoon at Miller Park. There were a total of five home runs 38 baserunners and 343 pitches. And all anyone talked about afterward was “the catch.” With the tying runs in scoring position and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning Padres center fielder Will Venable made one of the most significant — and greatest — catches of his career to save the Padres in a 10-8 victory over the Brewers. Charging in from center Venable made a headfirst dive and caught Norichika Aoki’s slicing line drive in full flight just inches off the ground — not only ending a five-run inning while keeping the Padres ahead but changing the momentum of the game. Had the ball dropped the game would have been tied at 10-10 — and a lot of white was showing as Venable kept the fingers of the glove between the ball and grass. “When it left the bat I thought ‘hit.’ I really did” Padres manager Bud Black said. “I thought it was going to fall. But we’ve seen that play from Will before. Awesome. Game-saver.” Venable who made a similar diving catch while sliding across the right-field foul line in St. Louis last weekend knew it was going to be close as he ran down the sinking drive off the bat of the left-handed-hitting Aoki. But he didn’t want to rank the catch or even to take full credit for the play. As left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher came in to face Aoki Padres first-base and outfield placement coach Dave Roberts signaled for Venable — who was also shaded toward left-center and shallower than usual — to move “another three or four steps to his left.” “Two inches over and I don’t make that catch” Venable said. “That was Dave Roberts’ play. Give Dave and the guys who do our scouting reports credit. I was already shaded toward left. Dave moved me farther over.” The shading combined with in Roberts’ words a “spectacular jump combined with his closing speed” allowed Venable to get the tip of his glove under the ball a split second before it touched the ground. “Not many outfielders in baseball can make that play” Roberts said. “Will’s name has to be in any Gold Glove discussion this season. As objective as I can be I don’t think there’s a better defensive right fielder in baseball. And he’s just as good in center. Great physical skills and anticipation. “We’ve seen that play from Will before. We will see it again. I can’t estimate how many runs and outs he’s saved us.” Early on it didn’t appear that the Padres would need any late defensive heroics. They built leads of 6-0 and 10-3 behind two-run homers by Carlos Quentin and Jesus Guzman and a clutch two-run double by Yonder Alonso — the first baseman’s third two-out run-scoring hit in a span of five games.
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