Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress narrowly avoided getting hit in the head by a line drive up the middle Monday against the Minnesota Twins.
Jeffress not only avoided injury, but — thanks to his quick reflexes and great hand-eye coordination — he actually caught the ball.
The play happened in the bottom of the fifth inning at Target Field. Jeffress had come on in relief of Brewers starter Gio Gonzalez.
With two outs, the Twins’ Willians Astudillo roped one right back at Jeffress.
— Justus Cleveland (@JustusCleveland) May 28, 2019
Jeffress leaned back and somehow managed to catch the ball just inches from his face.
The replay shows just how far backward he leaned. His back was parallel to the ground before his legs kicked out and he fell down.
Matrix catch by Jeremy Jeffress. Wow. pic.twitter.com/LZUhU5qvMJ
— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) May 28, 2019
Jeffress explained after the game how he managed to catch that ball.
“Instinct,” he said. “I just reacted. I literally thought I was gone.”
“I thought I was gone,” said Jeremy Jeffress when describing the Willians Astudillo line drive that nearly took his head off. He saw the video but won’t watch it again. Most important? He’s still healthy: pic.twitter.com/ikQHjVpZ96
— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) May 28, 2019
“I made a good pitch down in the zone, and he just hit it well,” Jeffress said. “Hit it right back up the middle. I literally thought it was going over my head. Last second, I just reacted. That’s all I could do.”
Jeffress was down for a while after the play as trainers came out to look at him. But he later told reporters that he was fine, he was just collecting his thoughts after such a close call.
There was even some concern that he might have tweaked his knee or back considering the “Matrix”-like way he had to move his body.
“I’m fine,” Jeffress said. “In those moments it’s just all reaction, but my body feels great.”
The Brewers went on to win, spurred by Orlando Arcia’s two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning that gave Milwaukee a 5-4 lead. Closer Josh Hader shut the door in the last two innings to seal the win.
Corbin Burnes (1-3) got the win in relief. Taylor Rogers (1-1) took the loss for Minnesota.
The Brewers are now 31-24, a half-game behind the Cubs in the NL Central. The Twins fell to 36-17 but hold a 10-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central.
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