Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Leftfielder Sam Fuld puts Tampa Bay Rays in position for win with two superb defensive plays in eighth inning

ST. PETERSBURG — When Marlins 2B Omar Infante ripped a hooking liner to deep left to lead off the eighth inning Sunday, RHP James Shields thought "it was a double off the bat."

Then Shields considered the fact that, hey, that's "Super" Sam Fuld in leftfield.

"As (Fuld) was running, I was saying to myself, 'You know, Super Man Sam might have a chance here,' " Shields said.

Fuld certainly did, making a spectacular diving catch near the warning track, one of two diving grabs in the inning. The second, in which he sprinted in to snag a Dewayne Wise blooper, ended the inning and sparked a standing ovation.

"It's been a little while since I've done something like that," Fuld said. "Those sort of things tend to happen in bunches for whatever reason, like home runs and stolen bases. It seems like a lot of the time it happens all at once. But I never expected to do something like that twice in one inning."

Fuld, whose penchant for daring diving catches this season sparked a May superhero cape giveaway, said the places both balls were hit, to the side and front of him, lent themselves to aggressive approaches. And he had a good read on them.

"Once again, we put Sam out there and he does the spectacular," manager Joe Maddon said. "I really didn't think he was going to catch the ball by Infante. … But he has really good closing speed and he's fearless, and that's a big part of why he's able to make those plays."

Of all his memorable catches this season, Fuld said the one in Chicago in early April was his favorite and the toughest, considering the ground he covered before a fully extended dive at the track.

But, as Shields said, "It just amazes me every time he does it."

OFF THE MARK: As a two-time Gold Glove Award winner, 3B Evan Longoria takes tremendous pride in his defense. So after he tied a career worst with two errors Sunday, his most since Sept. 21, 2008, in his rookie season, he was understandably disappointed.

In the first, Longoria bobbled a Wise chopper that had a lot of spin, and in the eighth he made a throwing error, his fifth of the season (he had 14 in 2010).

"My defense isn't where I want it to be," Longoria said. "I haven't been playing like I should be. I don't know what it is, just more ground balls, or a lack of focus or what. I feel like I should make every play so I'm pretty tough on myself."

STANDING TALL: RHP Jeff Niemann is excited to get back on the mound tonight after a month and a half on the disabled list, saying his lower back feels great and he's "ready to go."

Niemann said he got to work on some things while on rehab that he hopes will give him better success than when he was going 0-4 with a 5.92 ERA in his first five starts.

"It's kind of a little reset button," Niemann said. "You can go back to basics and get out there and get rid of some bad habits you get into. It went really well, and am looking forward to getting back out there."

Maddon didn't appear to be looking forward to seeing Niemann at the plate. "It's one of those things where you're sleeping at night and you wake up either sweating or screaming out loud," Maddon said. "That's the equivalent of watching Jeff Niemann hit."

MILLER TIME: The Rays will make their first trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee, and those who have played there say it's a bit unique. "It's a little futuristic," said Fuld, who played there while with the Cubs. "It looks like you're in a space ship."

GOING NATIONAL: With the Rays heading to National League parks, they went through refresher drills before Friday's game, getting prepared for all the nuances and different rules involved. "We've got everything hopefully down again," Maddon said. "I know (Brewers manager) Ronnie Roenicke, he's very fundamental, so we'll see a lot of stuff out of them."

Leftfielder Sam Fuld puts Tampa Bay Rays in position for win with two superb defensive plays in eighth inning 06/19/11 [Last modified: Sunday, June 19, 2011 9:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Ramus to DL, Peterson back, no further moves


    We were expecting a flurry of roster moves this afternoon and we got one. OF Colby Ramus is on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to June 19 with left hip tendinitis.

    Colby Ramus is on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to June 19 with left hip tendinitis.
  2. Jameis Winston stats: How the Bucs QB performed under pressure


    Every quarterback's performance declines when he faces pressure from the defense.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston faced pressure on more than 30 percent of his pass plays last season. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  3. Could Lightning deal for a defenseman today?


    Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has been trying to further bolster his blueline, and he may have a chance to acquire one by tonight's first round of the NHL Draft.

    The Lightning is reportedly in on Travis Hamonic (Islanders), though New York is rumored to be asking for two-first round picks.
  4. SI ranks Quinton Flowers on top 100, above Deondre Francois


    Sports Illustrated's ongoing countdown of the top 100 players in college football includes some high praise for USF quarterback Quinton Flowers.

  5. Kentucky recruit, former Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox among top prospects for 2018 NBA Draft


    Less than 24 hours after the NBA Draft, analysts have already begun looking ahead to 2018.

    Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox finishes a layup during the McDonald's All-American game in March at the United Center in Chicago. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]