Josh Reddick began the Cactus League almost three months ago by steal a pair of home runs from the Giants’ Mike Morse.
And in the 10 weeks since, it’s good to know he hasn’t forgotten how to do it.
The A’s right fielder made one of the best catches of his career in the third inning Thursday, racing from medium-shallow right field to deep right-center to make a leaping catch against the wall with the bases loaded.
“When he starts to run that hard, you know something cool is about to happen,’’ A’s starter Sonny Gray said.
If Reddick doesn’t catch that ball off the bat of Wil Myers, the game might well have been over. As it was, Gray recovered to retired the next 10 batters he’d face and the game was a battle throughout. The A’s would lose in 11 innings, but the catch made sure Oakland at least had a chance to win the game. And, given that the A’s took a one-run lead into the bottom of the 11th, they had that, even if Tampa Bay would rally for a 5-2 win.
“It was a very, very hard play,’’ Reddick said.
The right fielder said he knew of Myers’ propensity to hit the ball in that gap in right-center, but Reddick opted to play up close with the idea if a hit fell in he’d have a chance to throw a runner out.
“I did get a great jump on it,’’ Reddick said. “We all know how hard it is to take your eye off the ball here, I ran a pretty good route and I timed the jump well.’’
The timing couldn’t have been better from Gray’s point of view as the catch kept the game scoreless. Neither team would score until the seventh.
“The catch was unbelievable,’’ Gray said. “When (Myers) hit it, I thought it was a homer. When I looked back and saw Reddick running … at that point it was a game-saver. It was awesome.’’
It’s plays like that that enable manager Bob Melvin to write Reddick’s name in the lineup card with confidence almost every day. Reddick had a huge offensive series with eight RBIs last weekend in Cleveland, then came to Tampa and was hitless in three games.
But the right fielder’s defense kept the team with a chance to win.