Yesterday, we brought you the defensive heroics of Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who prevented the Minnesota Twins from scoring two runs with an awkward, yet brilliant, play.
Not to be outdone, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, another outstanding defender, flashed his leather in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, with the Rockies holding a 1-0 lead, Philadelphia pitcher Vince Velasquez stepped to the plate with runners on first and second and no outs to try a sacrifice bunt.
However, Arenado had other plans. When Velasquez popped up his first bunt attempt in foul territory, Arenado quickly reacted, immediately veering to his right to make a diving catch:
The runners were unable to advance on the play and the Rockies escaped the inning with their 1-0 lead intact, thanks in large part to Arenado's big-time defensive gem.
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Though the Rockies eventually lost 2-1 in 11 innings on Thursday, they ended their 10-game road trip with a 7-3 record. For a team that has struggled so mightily away from Coors Field in recent years, that's a big positive.
Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said the feeling around the clubhouse is noticeably more positive this season, according to Rockies.com:
"Early in the series when we were stretching, I was telling the guys it feels so much different than the past," said Gonzalez, who went 16-for-41 (.390) with two home runs, four doubles and five RBIs on the road trip. "Everybody is confident, everybody knows that we're a really good team so when you go out there with confidence, that's a plus."
The Rockies took three of four games from the Phillies after winning two of three games against both the Twins and the Cincinnati Reds.
Arenado isn't just a one-trick pony, either. As impressive as his glovework is, he's equally valuable at the plate, where he's hitting .293 with 12 home runs and 33 RBI.
Arenado finished Thursday's game 1-for-4 with a walk at the plate, but shortstop Trevor Story's home run in the top of the fourth inning provided Colorado's only run in the 11-inning loss.
The Rockies currently lead the National League West division with a 31-18 record, one game ahead of the 30-19 Arizona Diamondbacks.
If the Rockies are going to hold on to the division lead and make a run at the postseason, they'll need Arenado to continue his MVP-level play.
As long as Machado is providing his own defensive gems over in the American League, Arenado will have plenty of motivation to continue putting up highlights in Colorado.
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