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Play of the Day: Marcell Ozuna nails Kirk Nieuwenhuis at the plate to end the game

Jun 20, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

Marcell Ozuna AP

For all of the great Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig throws lately, we’ll likely be talking about the one Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna made to end Friday night’s game against the Mets. Closer Steve Cishek was in to preserve a one-run lead, but allowed a lead-off double to Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Ruben Tejada moved him over to third base with a sacrifice bunt, putting the tying run at third base with one out.

All Chris Young had to do was hit a fly ball deep enough to the outfield to score Nieuwenhuis, and he appeared to do just that, sending a 3-2 slider up in the air to left field. Ozuna camped under the ball, then brought his momentum forward home plate as he made the catch. Ozuna fired a laser to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who applied the tag to Nieuwenhuis just before he could touch the plate, ending the game.

The best part? Ozuna had nailed a runner at the plate the inning prior, as well. Both throws:

  1. Old Gator - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    First point: in both cases, Ozuna shot down the tying run.

    Second pint: the second throw was a smart bomb, on the fly, no hops, from mid-left field straight into Saltalamacchia’s glove.

    Third point: Terry Collins came out bellyaching impotently on both plays.

    Fourth point: All of this high drama became necessary because Kevin Gregg was brought into the ballgame to peetch the eighth. I don’t think I need to elaborate on what happened. I will inquire rhetorically following tomorrow morning’s STS about which idiot thought it was a good idea to bring Kevin Gregg back to Macondo, and ask why even an idiot would do so.

    • hittfamily - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:17 AM

      I thought he should have been called safe. Saltalamacchia moved his foot in front of the plate before he had the ball. The announcer’s saying “he has a lane”, and I’m thinking “no he doesn’t”. Amazing throw, but the runner slid, and his foot was past the plate by the time the tag was applied. If Salty doesn’t put his foot in front of the plate before he has the ball, he likely slides int the plate.

      Ticky tack I know, but Collins was correct to challenge the play in my view. Runners aren’t allowed to barrel over catchers anymore. In return, catchers aren’t allowed to block the plate with their feet or legs before they have the ball anymore. I think Salty was in clear violation of the new rule, and 1:09-1:11 proves it.

      Amazing throw though.

      • dan1111 - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:47 AM

        I think that is a pretty weak case. Salty only partially moved his foot in front of the plate in the act of bracing himself to catch the ball. Nieuwenhuis still had a clear path to the plate; the reason he slid outside was to avoid the tag. If he had slid straight to the plate, he would have been tagged out before he reached home.

        Of course Collins would not be doing his job if he didn’t challenge a close, game-ending play like this. So, I can’t fault him for that. But I believe the call was correct.

      • Old Gator - Jun 21, 2014 at 6:21 AM

        It’s also a weak case because Salty had the ball well in advance of the runner getting there. A catcher with the ball can block the plate. Collins had no case. He was just trying to save…heh, I mean, do his job.

      • hittfamily - Jun 21, 2014 at 4:31 PM

        What do you mean “partially”? His foot was on the foul line. The plate’s in fair territory. There wasn’t an inch to be had.

  2. tmc602014 - Jun 21, 2014 at 12:11 AM

    Was Russell Martin not called for blocking when he was two feet farther back and off to he side I’m calling shenanigans!

    • paperlions - Jun 21, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      The next day MLB publically admitted that the interpretation of the rule was wrong and for a force play the runner should have been ruled out.

  3. paperlions - Jun 21, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    Amazing play in the 9th. Got WAY behind the ball, charged with perfect timing to catch it with all his momentum going forward and threw a dart to home. Just an incredibly smart play.

  4. qacm - Jun 21, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    That throw is even better than the one Cespedes made. Unbelievable.

    • jwbiii - Jun 21, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      Kind of different things. On Cespedes’ throws, he was moving laterally, and essentially throwing flat footed. Ozuna had the opportunity to make the textbook play, to be advancing towards the plate when he fielded the ball. He executed it perfectly. If you’re a youth league coach, save that link and, say, “This is how you do it, guys.”

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