Top-notch defense supports Jackson's no-no
Montero preventing a Crawford steal cited as crucial play
ST. PETERSBURG -- Of all the bizarre aspects of Edwin Jackson's no-hitter on Friday night, one might have gotten lost beneath Jackson's 149 pitches, 10 baserunners allowed and eight walks: The D-backs didn't need many game-saving defensive plays to preserve the accomplishment and the 1-0 victory over the Rays.
Although there was no one particular moment that kept the no-hitter alive, there were plenty of spectacular efforts: Miguel Montero's throw to catch Rays outfielder Carl Crawford stealing second, Mark Reynolds' grab and throw for the forceout at home with the bases loaded, and Tony Abreu's sprinting grab and toss to first base all stood out as key plays that made Jackson's memorable night possible.
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"It was a weird game. There were a lot of walks, and it was just a weird game," said first baseman Adam LaRoche, who caught the throw from shortstop Stephen Drew for the last out of the game. "Not a ton of tough plays. 'Effectively wild' would apply. It was awesome."
When asked which catch, throw or other defensive play stood out as being the most important, most players responded with Montero's eighth-inning throw to get Crawford.
Crawford, who was supposed to sit out Friday with a sore left shoulder, entered the game as a pinch-runner for Carlos Pena, who reached on an error when Drew fumbled his ground ball. And with 26 stolen bases to his name this season and his reputation as a speedy baserunner preceding him, Crawford came in with a target on his back.
With B.J. Upton batting, Crawford made the run toward second, but Montero made a perfect throw to Abreu for the third out of the inning.
"There were a lot of great plays, but Miguel, he threw out a guy that steals bases a lot and doesn't get caught too much. That was big, especially pitch-count wise," Jackson said. "If I come up and have to face B.J. out of the stretch with a guy on second who can also steal third, it's just one of those things you have to keep in mind. It was a good throw, and it was one of those plays where it definitely saves the game. You've got a man on second, two outs with a guy who can easily get a hit."
Montero knew Crawford was going to run at some point, so he just waited it out carefully and made sure he was in position to make a good throw.
"When a game goes like that, that's going to happen," Montero said. "Pretty much everything goes right."
Montero was also involved in another key defensive play, although he was admittedly not nearly as prepared to make it as he was to deny Crawford at second.
With one out and the bases loaded in the third inning, Upton bounced a grounder that Reynolds scooped from his knees before turning to make the throw home to Montero, who was standing by the plate with his catcher's mask in his hands.
"I wasn't ready for it because I never thought he was going to throw it home, and I guarantee nobody else thought that," Montero said. "But he did, and he made a good throw. It's good."
"I caught it, spun and threw from my knees. Miggy was sitting there holding his mask, didn't even expect the throw," Reynolds added. "He dropped his mask real quick and made the catch, and Edwin was able to get the next guy out."
The play turned a potential bases-loaded no-outs scenario into a manageable situation, and Jackson got out of the inning by forcing Hank Blalock into a routine groundout to Abreu.
Abreu's most memorable defensive effort wasn't nearly as routine, however, when Jason Bartlett hit a chopper over Jackson in the fourth inning. Abreu sped over, picked it up in stride and made the throw to first in time to get the shortstop out.
Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.