Tuesday, February 19, 2008

By Sean Dodds - AngelsWin.com Contributor

When I think about great Angels defensive plays, three come to mind: Jim Edmonds' over-the-shoulder catch in Kansas City, Darin Erstad's diving catch to save the game against the Yankees, and this one — Molina to K-Rod in a no-look play for the ages.

Here's the set-up: it's September and the Angels trail the first-place A's by three games. Clinging to a tenuous 2-1 lead in Cleveland, the Angels send Francisco Rodriguez to the mound for a rare eighth inning appearance; and he struggles. Ronnie Belliard is on third base with two outs.

Rodriguez throws his patented slider in the dirt and catcher Bengie Molina gets a piece of it, but it still rolls about 10 feet away. Seeing this, Belliard dashes toward home for the apparent tying run.

It seemed hopeless, but Molina, still in Gold Glove form, got to the ball and, without even looking back toward home plate, backhanded a throw to Rodriguez, who had charged from the mound to cover home plate. Still on the move, Rodriguez nabbed Molina's toss and made a sweeping tag that caught Belliard just in time for the amazing third out of the inning.

“That play was flat out unbelievable,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia and starting pitcher John Lackey remarked, “It’s got to be one of the best plays I’ve seen.”

The play was great no matter what followed, but the Angels held on to win the game making it that much more dramatic. I remember watching the game from home and screaming at Frankie and Bengie simultaneously about blowing the game and then screaming for joy seconds later. To me, this is an iconic play that will always be remembered and I am thankful I got to watch it happen. I will never forget it.

Love to hear what you think!


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