MILWAUKEE — Joey Votto sprinted out to the umpire, screaming “Check his glove, check his glove!”
Like everyone else still at Miller Park, Votto was in utter disbelief at what had just happened. Playing deep with the tying run at first base, Carlos Gomez got to the wall in plenty of time, timed his jump perfectly and leaped high over the wall to rob Votto of a potential go-ahead home run.
As Votto sprinted out toward second base umpire Mike Everitt, Gomez finally flashed the ball, along with a big smile knowing he preserved a dramatic 4-3 victory for the Milwaukee Brewers.
“When I jumped and I felt the ball in my glove, I threw my hands up like, ‘I got it!’ Then I do the thing that I do all the time,” Gomez said. “Votto still was looking at the umpires and I said, ‘Here’s the ball right here, what do you want?'”
The home run saving catch was Gomez’s fourth this season, with Votto joining Colorado left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, Phillies outfielder John Mayberry Jr. and Mets outfielder Marlon Byrd as victims. According to ESPN Stats and Info, no other player has more than two home run saving catches this season.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game end like that, that I’ve been a part of, at least,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “I’ve seen them on the replays, but I don’t remember a game ending like that.”
He might have remembered watching Gomez do the exact same thing on replay. When asked if he’s ever stolen a home run to end the game before, Gomez quickly fired back that he had.
On May 16, 2008, Gomez robbed Yorvit Torrealba of a potential game-tying home run to give Joe Nathan and the Minnesota Twins a 4-2 win at Coors Field.
“In that situation, when you save the game like that or when you hit a walk-off home run, it’s amazing,” Gomez said. “I’ve never hit one but I’ve stole a home run ball to win the game. It’s something special. You can’t wait to get home to see it over and over.”
The catch preserved another win for Kyle Lohse, his third in his last four starts. Lohse began his career watching Torii Hunter make spectacular plays for the Twins up against the baggy fence at the Metrodome, and now he again is aided by one of baseball’s best defensive center fielders.
“I think Carlos is right there with him,” Lohse said of the comparison to Hunter. “He’s so athletic and explosive. You just see him get good reads, and it’s pretty fun to watch.”
After coaching Hunter for three seasons with the Angels, Roenicke sees similarities in the way both can cover ground in center field. Both Hunter and Gomez cut their teeth in the big leagues with the Twins, learning a lot of the same defensive principles.
“One of the philosophies in Minnesota was to play deep, for one,” Roenicke said. “They believed in keeping more singles, not having the doubles. That allowed him to rob more. Gomey still kind of has that same philosophy. They get back there more.
“There aren’t too many guys that can jump as high as Gomey can. Torii was a phenomenal athlete, but he can’t jump like Gomey can. Torii made some spectacular plays going up against the wall. Gomey, he can get up there.”
In an 0-for-12 slump at the plate, Gomez still found a way to add to his memorable 2013 season on Monday night. A base-running blunder in the bottom of the eighth inning may have cost the Brewers a run, one they would have needed if Votto’s ball left the park.
Instead, Gomez saved the day on what will be remembered as one of the most memorable victories in what has been a down season thus far. The way Gomez thinks of it, he now has 17 home runs.
“I’ve hit 13 home runs and four that I’ve stole, that’s how I calculate it,” Gomez said with a smile. “You have to be ready for every pitch, especially in that situation, not taking the frustrations of my at-bats to defense.
“It’s really fun. Today I went 0-for-4 but I made the final catch to win the game.”