TORONTO — Kevin Pillar made arguably one of the best catches of the year in Major League Baseball on Thursday night, a full-extension diving grab in the eighth inning of the Toronto Blue Jays' 9-3 victory against the Minnesota Twins.
Pillar went full-extension on a diving grab in the eighth inning to rob Miguel Sano of an extra-base hit. The crowd of 34,847 at Rogers Centre erupted and gave the centre fielder a standing ovation, and his teammates in the dugout applauded, as well.
"Kevin, it doesn't surprise me anymore," manager John Gibbons said. "He's got a great first step. That's the key. ...
"He enjoys the thrill of that, of taking away hits. That's kind of who he is."
Pillar didn't see it as much as a thrill as his job. He figured he knew where the ball was going off Sano's bat before it got there.
"I just had a good jump, and I'm out there to win games in whatever way possible," he said.
It didn't matter that this was a blowout and that Pillar's landing came on the unforgiving turf at Rogers Centre. He braced for impact and never second-guessed going all out for the catch.
"That's just the way I play," Pillar said. "That's the way I've always played. That's the way my dad taught me how to play since I was a little kid. There's a time and a place. If you're going to put yourself at risk with a big lead like that, you have to pick and choose your spots."
In Pillar's mind, even though that out wouldn't have been the difference between winning and losing, it might be the difference in five or 10 extra pitches that don't need to happen. He considers it simple.
"We're trying to win games," Pillar said.
Follow @SWhyno on Twitter
Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press