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This Rays relay play is phenomenal

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Hopefully you were watching the Astros-Rays game last night. If life interrupted and you didn’t get a chance to see it, however, know that you missed one of the best defensive plays that’s come down the pike in some time.

It wasn’t some individual act of superhuman defense. It wasn’t an Ozzie Smith-style act of wizardry or a Jim Edmonds-style lay-out catch. It was just perfect — and I mean 100% perfect — fundamentally sound team defense. Defense that would make Tom Emanski and Fred McGriff sit up from their recliners, look at each other and say “damn, that’s some nifty friggin’ defense.”

Not that I know if those two hang out or anything. Anyway.

The play came with the Rays up 3-0 with one out in the top of the fourth inning. José Altuve was on first. Big hitter Yordan Álvarez was at the plate and he tattooed one to dead center, that hit just in front of the base of the wall. Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier played the carom cleanly, fired it to shortstop Willy Adames who, in turn, fired it to catcher Travis d'Arnaud who executed a perfect tag to nail Altuve at the plate.

That may sound moderately routine, but the speed and precision it took from all three Rays defenders to nail Altuve — who was racing the whole way — was astounding to watch in real time:

 

If any part of that relay is executed any less than perfectly, Altuve is safe and the Astros are in business in a close game. Instead we got the Platonic ideal of a relay play. The kind of play that, if the Rays somehow get past Gerrit Cole on Thursday and mount a deep playoff run, we’ll likely see as one of the signature moments of the season.

Mets’ McNeil carted off vs. Nats after crash into wall

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NEW YORK — New York Mets left fielder Jeff McNeil was carted off the field Thursday after crashing into the left field wall in the first inning to rob the Washington Nationals’ Asdrubal Cabrera of a two-run extra-base hit.

McNeil, a natural infielder who has been manning both outfielder corners for the Mets since last year, raced at full speed to the warning track and made an impressive lunging catch for the final out of the inning. He crashed into the wall with both arms extended and raised his glove hand as he fell to indicate he had the ball.

But McNeil was in obvious pain as he covered his eyes with both hands and yelled before flinging his glove off. He briefly tried getting up but only made it a few steps with a trainer and manager Luis Rojas before sitting back down.

McNeil was able to walk to a cart on the warning track before being driven off the field.

The Mets said in the fourth inning McNeil was still being evaluated and an update would be provided after the game.

McNeil, who has started at third base and left field this season, is batting .293 with seven RBIs in 16 games. He made the All-Star team last season and is a career .319 hitter in 212 games.

Billy Hamilton pinch-hit for McNeil in the bottom half of the inning.