CHICAGO — The spectacular catch Sam Fuld made Saturday in a full-out dive toward the rightfield corner is what people in the clubhouse, around the stadium and on TV were and will be talking about for a long time.
But what Fuld was thinking more about afterward was a similarly hit ball three innings later he couldn't get to that became a pivotal play in the Rays' latest loss, 4-2 to the White Sox.
"I obviously wish I could have gotten to it," he said. "I know I really couldn't have done anything. That's going to eat at me, definitely.
"I think ultimately, I'll probably remember the catch a little bit more, but right now, that definitely stings."
The second ball, a hooking liner by Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, became a two-out, two-run double that turned a 2-1 seventh-inning deficit into 4-1, a monstrous difference as anemic as the Rays offense has been, scoring two or fewer runs for the sixth time in eight games (and only 19 total) and posting a team average of .167.
That it came right after rookie reliever Jake McGee (four hits, two walks in 22/3 innings over five appearances) failed again, walking Carlos Quentin to load the bases, made it even worse.
"That was a tough moment to get it up to 4-1," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Because we're not scoring a lot of runs right now, we really have to keep it in check.
"I'm not blaming the pitchers by any means. It's just when you're not scoring runs, you have to not make those mistakes, and we did."
The Rays (1-7) were down a run because of an earlier miscue, on an odd two-out bases-loaded play in the fourth. Brent Morel broke his bat and blooped a ball just over the mound. But Rays starter Wade Davis hesitated a tad too long as he turned to head back, and the ball dropped untouched for an infield single.
"I didn't want to have any collisions," Davis said. "It (stinks). I saw the ball. I had time to get there. I was just thinking about the other guys coming in, and I hesitated a little bit."
Davis' misadventure set up Fuld's adventure as usually weak-hitting Juan Pierre laced a ball toward the rightfield corner. Fuld, shifted toward center, started running and didn't stop until he skidded to a halt on the warning track — "prototypical Superman dive, I guess you can say," Fuld said — both knees and arms bloodied.
"I was screaming from centerfield when he caught it," B.J. Upton said. "That's unbelievable. Great catch! It should be play of the year so far."
Pierzynski, the 14-season veteran, said it was one of the best catches he had seen based on degree of difficulty alone.
"He ran, like, 50 yards to get to that ball," he said. "It was an incredible catch. I tip my hat to him, for one, he didn't kill himself on the fence, and two, he got there and made the play. It was an amazing play."
Said Davis: " I don't even know how to explain that."
Fuld, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound pest acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade, can do that and with a .222 average (and .333 on-base percentage) that is relatively robust among the Rays figures to get more playing time.
"Sam has saved us I don't know how many runs over the last two days," Maddon said. "He's really spoiling us right now. It's as good a defense as we've seen here in the outfield, and we've had some really good outfielders. And it's not just the great plays, it's how he does things."
Just on that one play, there wasn't anything he could do.
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.