BOSTON (CBS) — Even if Andrew Benintendi isn’t getting it done with his bat, he can still make game-changing plays with his defense. The dynamic rookie may have saved the Red Sox’ win over the Astros on Sunday night with a clutch throw to preserve the team’s 6-5 lead, which turned out to be the final score.
In the bottom of the eighth inning with the Red Sox clinging to a 6-4 lead, Astros DH Carlos Beltran dropped a base hit into left field with the bases loaded. George Springer scored easily from third with Altuve, one of the fastest players in baseball, close behind him.
It appeared that Altuve was about to tie the game at six, but Benintendi quickly gathered the ball and rifled it all the way to catcher Christian Vazquez, who tagged Altuve to nail him at home plate.
The throw only resulted in the second out of the inning, but Red Sox reliever Robby Scott was able to avoid further damage. Craig Kimbrel shut the door in the ninth for his 20th save of the season.
MLB StatCast measured the throw as traveling 237 feet at 91 MPH. Both Vazquez and Astros manager A.J. Hinch had one simple word to describe Benintendi’s throw: perfect.
“It was perfect. Great throw,” said Vazquez after the game, via MLB.com’s Christian Boutwell.
Hinch didn’t fault Altuve for trying to score and credited Benintendi with simply making the better play.
“Benintendi’s got a good arm,” said Hinch. “They were playing shallow because of the dimensions, so it’s not as long a throw as it normally is or he’s not playing as far back as he normally does. I thought Altuve got a good read and cut the base pretty quickly. … Then a perfect throw.”
Benintendi also went 1-for-3 at the dish to raise his batting average to .272. He had been mired in a 1-for-12 mini-slump prior to Sunday. But that throw to nab Altuve at home plate served to remind Red Sox fans that even if Benintendi is struggling to hit, he has enough talent to help the team win in other ways.