If not for Bernadina’s dazzling defense, we’d be talking about how Clippard had blown four saves since the All-Star break, including two in as many nights.
Instead, Clippard gets his 23rd save of the season thanks to a scoreless 12th inning. Looks pretty nice in the box score.
I know Mike Trout’s home run-robbing grab at Camden Yards earlier this season was just an insane play. There have been a few other ridiculous outfield grabs this season, including Gregor Blanco’s diving catch on the warning track to preserve Matt Cain’s perfect game.
But Bernadina’s fearless full-extension, leaping grab into the left-center field wall at Minute Maid Park last night - a catch which literally saved the game - has to be up there with any we’ve witnessed this season.
If you haven’t seen the grab yet, here’s the link. Click it now, then bring it back and watch it again and again. Wear out that play button if you have to. Given how entertaining that 98 seconds is, I’m not sure the darn thing can be watched too many times.
The immediate reactions to Brett Wallace’s fly ball are priceless.
Steve Pearce, the potential game-tying run on second base, puts up his arm as soon as the ball starts flying out to left-center, thinking Wallace has won the game.
Craig Stammen, standing just beyond Bernadina in the Nationals bullpen, jumps up and down after the catch like he’d just won a car on The Price is Right.
Clippard puts both arms up in the air, lets out a howl, then crouches over and breathes a deep sigh of relief, knowing he caught a huge break.
Bernadina’s teammates run out to celebrate with him, slapping their arms together in a chomping motion, simulating a shark bite. Known as “The Shark” for how he hunts fly balls, Bernadina proved yet again he’s deserving of that moniker.
When you factor in how much ground Bernadina had to cover, the incredibly awkward configuration of the outfield wall, which has protruding columns in various places, and the fact that this was a stadium Bernadina rarely ever gets to play in or shag fly balls at, the catch seems even more impressive the more you think about it.
Add in that if the ball drops, the Nats lose a 12-inning stunner, and it makes it all the more thrilling.
Thanks to Bernadina’s heroics, the Nationals again have the best record in baseball and are four games up on the Braves in the National League East.
Shark Week hasn’t started quite yet, but the Discovery Channel might as well just kick the thing off now. Bernadina got the party started a bit early.