Manny Machado didn’t tip his hat to Adam Jones because he’s a good teammate. He simply had to acknowledge a worthy adversary’s feat, instead.
Jones denied Machado of a home run Saturday night in the World Baseball Classic with perhaps the most sensational play of the tournament. The United States was leading 4-2 in the seventh inning when Machado hit a ball which seemed destined for the center-field stands at San Diego’s Petco Park. But Jones had other ideas.
Jones’ catch gave Team USA and their fans an emotional lift at a key moment in the game. Robinson Cano’s ensuing solo home run didn’t change the direction of the contest, and the U.S. went on to win 6-3.
“Adam Jones’ catch,” Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena said, per The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Jeff Sanders. “I think was a big difference because with those back-to-back, if he didn’t catch the ball, it would have been a tie game.”
Jones, a San Diego native, even surprised himself.
“I’m still in kind of shock that I even got to that ball,” he said, per Sanders. “I mean, off the bat, I’m just like, ‘This ball’s hit really, really far so just keep going, keep going. You know, this California air is going to slow it down.’ I just never quit. That’s just the style I play with. I don’t mind running into a wall or two.”
Having been robbed of a home run, Machado actually seemed less surprised than anyone by Jones’ catch. After all, Machado and Jones are teammates on the Baltimore Orioles, and the Dominican slugger knows all too well what the speedy U.S. center fielder is capable of doing.
Thumbnail photo via Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports Images