Martinez on Robles' acrobatic catch in center field: "Game saver"

Fresh off a four-run scoring outburst that erased a 5-2 Braves lead, the Nationals were desperate to hold the slim advantage for reliever Wander Suero in the bottom of the fifth.

Leading 6-5, Suero allowed an Adam Duvall single. With two outs, the go-ahead run was at the plate in Austin Riley. The Braves third baseman got a hold of a 92 mph Suero cutter and lined it deep to center field.

Victor Robles tracked the ball, which had an exit velocity of 103 mph and would have traveled 409 feet, the furthest-hit ball in the game, according to Statcast. Putting that number in perspective, the Truist Park center field wall marker to his left reads 400 feet. Robles intercepted the ball prior to it's intended destination.

As Robles approached the center field wall, he leaped up and gloved the line drive before it left the park, denying Riley what would have been a go-ahead two-run shot.

Robles-Running-Catch-Gray-Sidebar.jpg"To be honest, it was complete instinct," Robles said via translator Octavio Martinez on a postgame Zoom call. "I work every day real hard on my defense so that the plays become a little easier for me to make. But that was just complete instinct that I was able to make it.

"All I'm trying to do is help out my pitcher as best I can, hopefully get them to make less pitches. If anything comes my way, then I try to make the play to help them out the best I can, and that's all I'm trying to do."

The catch became a signature play in the Nats' come-from-behind 8-5 victory over the Braves.

Manager Davey Martinez was also tracking the ball from the dugout. He knew the ball was hit very well by Riley. But the skipper also knows what Robles is capable of defensively.

"Awesome catch," Martinez said. "Game saver right there, really was. He went back, he found the wall, he did everything right. Got the glove up and he robbed a home run. It was a home run. Victor can do that kind of stuff. It was awesome. Great play.

"When I watched him and the way he timed it, I knew he had a chance. You never know until they go up there but he came down, he had the ball in his glove. I can tell you we were all excited."

The 23-year-old Robles has made several outstanding plays in the outfield during the course of his burgeoning career. Last season, he led the major leagues with 23 Outs Above Average.

So how does this catch rank for Robles?

"Right now, I would put that play at the very top of my list, mainly because I helped the team save two runs," Robles said. "Not only that, keep them ahead of the game and we ended up winning the game, so that point puts it at the top."

On offense, Robles finished 1-for-3 with two walks and a run scored, his average now up to .267. He doubled in the eighth and came around to score, and walked in the fifth and ninth innings.

"I feel good," Robles said about recent adjustments at the plate. "I've been feeling very comfortable at the plate. This game is going to bring you some good days and bad days. I just know I've got to keep working and improving."

Robles is correct about his dramatic catch. In a game that Nats desperately needed to find a way to win, especially after losing in walk-off fashion Monday night, he came up with the big play at the right time.

Robles' new teammate, Eric Thames, played three seasons with Milwaukee where he witnessed several amazing acrobatic catches in the Brewers outfield. He believes this one by Robles is to that level.

"I was very impressed by Robles," Thames said. "I was able to play with Lorenzo Cain for a few years so I saw quite a few of those. The timing is what throws that off. There are a lot of guys that have the athleticism to jump up there and do all that crazy stuff. But like to time it, and jump up and catch it, Victor is a really good center fielder. I am very impressed."

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