Comebackers in baseball are among the scariest plays in all of sports as pitchers have split seconds to protect themselves.
Most of the time, the ball being hit back to them has an even higher velocity than their pitch, even if the pitcher throws 100 mph.
Jake Faria of the Tampa Bay Rays found himself in that situation Tuesday while facing New York’s Aaron Judge. The Yankees slugger has an average exit velocity of 95.3 mph this season, which is the second-fastest in all of baseball (behind the Rangers’ Joey Gallo).
But Judge put all of his 282-pound frame into a swing and registered a batted ball with an exit velocity of 109 mph. Faria was on the mound for that pitch, and fortunately the play didn’t end up with him writhing on the ground in pain.
Faria put his glove up and ducked his head down at the same time, and the ball somehow made its way into his glove.
109 mph off the bat. 😳
What. A. Catch. pic.twitter.com/P3Hc87TXfM
— MLB (@MLB) September 26, 2018
Afterward, Faria admitted that the play was more of self-preservation than just his reflexes taking over.
“I threw my hands up to get my head out of the way, and the ball went into my glove,” Faria told MLB.com’s Bill Chastain. “(I’ve) never seen anything that hard coming at my face before.”
Bryan Hoch, the Yankees reporter for MLB.com, pretty much summed up the play with one tweet.
Someone get Jake Faria a new pair of pants.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) September 26, 2018
That play would be the last for Faria in the game, as he started but was removed in the third inning. He took the loss as the Yankees prevailed 9-2.
Faria has had quite the adventure on the mound this season, one that goes beyond his 4-4 record. Earlier this year in a game at Kansas City, he slipped while making a pitch, which resulted in a perfect bounce pass to the catcher.
Jake Faria gets great sink action 🔥👀 pic.twitter.com/zdP6zMW6ju
— Fanatics View (@fanaticsview) May 16, 2018
Faria’s left foot stumbled on the mound, which made him nearly fall over to the left while making the pitch. It caught the outside corner of the plate, but the umpire thought it was just a wee bit low to be called a strike.
With runners on base, Faria had to deliver the ball or else he would have been called for a balk. If no one was on base, he could have just held onto the ball and been part of a bloopers real with no further damage being done.
Faria managed to smile about it afterward after being serenaded with an mini-ovation from the away crowd. The pitch came in at 43.7 mph, which was the second-slowest of the season.
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