Margot, Jimenez Play Turned Tide For World Team

SAN DIEGOYoan Moncada had the go-ahead home run and won the MVP award, but the largest cheers for World team feats on Sunday were for reserve outfielders Manuel Margot and Eloy Jimenez.

Margot robbed a home run in center field in the sixth inning, and Jimenez made a jumping grab and went tumbling over the railing in foul territory in right field for the final out of the seventh. Both plays helped swing the momentum in the World’s 11-3 victory at Petco Park in the Futures Game on Sunday.

Margot’s catch drew a loud round of applause from an appreciative home crowd for the Padres prospect, but it was the Cubs’ Jimenez who earned the lone standing ovation of the contest after his grab in foul ground.

“Both those turned things around for us,” World Team and Marlins first baseman Josh Naylor said. “Defense is contagious too.”

After some spotty defensive play early from both sides, Margot started the turnaround. With the World trailing 3-2 with one out in the sixth, Cardinals catcher Carson Kelly lifted a deep fly ball to center. Margot broke back and too far to his right, but circled back and sped up as he approached the wall. With the 396-foot mark and a short wall approaching, Margot leapt, stuck out his glove to his left, and snagged Kelly’s fly just before it snuck over the Cholulua Hot Sauce ad on the short wall.

“Off the bat I thought it might be a little bit deeper than it actually ended up being,” Margot said through a translator. “Going after it you just have to give it your all, and I was lucky enough to make the catch.”

It came just a half-inning after Margot led off the sixth with a single and scored the World’s first run, part of a series of game-swinging plays by the Padres prospect in his presumptive future home park.

“Obviously it was an exciting catch,” Margot said. “Close ballgame, late, doing it here, just to be able to make the catch was a big moment for me.”

The man on the other side of the catch was impressed, if not a tad disappointed, as well.

“I’ll remember,” Kelly said. “If I come back to San Diego, every time I’ll remember I got robbed.”

Jimenez didn’t steal a home run, but his grab was every bit as impressive. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Phillies outfielder Dylan Cozens lifted a towering fly ball down the right-field line that hung in the air for more than seven seconds as it drifted into foul ground.

Jimenez, the long-legged, 19-year-old Dominican, raced toward the line, left his feet at full speed a few feet from the side wall, raised his glove up and to his left, and caught the ball at the peak of his jump before hitting his hip on the railing and tumbling over at his midsection.

“That is my craziest catch I’ve made,” Jimenez said. “I touched the dirt and knew the wall was coming and decided to just go all out.”

Jharel Cotton, who was on the mound when Jimenez went over the wall, felt a combination of appreciation and shock.

“I saw the ball was drifting over and I thought, ‘Maybe he has a chance to get it,’ and then I saw him jump the wall,” he said. “And then I saw him jump the wall and I thought, ‘If he made that play, it’s going to be awesome,’ and he did. It was crazy to see.”

As Jimenez returned to the third-base dugout, he received a hero’s welcome.

“That was incredible,” Naylor said. “I’ve never seen that in my life. I’m still in shock. I can’t believe he caught that baseball. I’ve never seen anything that good.”

The rest of the World Team followed. Naylor made a diving stop to his right at first base and made a perfect throw to get the lead runner at second in the eighth, Mets shortstop Amed Rosario added a flashy grab to his right and throw from the deep in the hole in the ninth, and the World ultimately outscored the US 9-0 beginning from the time Margot made his home-run saving catch.

Jimenez and Margot both did their part on offense during the surge as well. Jimenez went 2-for-3 with a double and a three-run homer off the face of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building in left, and Margot went 1-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored out of the leadoff spot.

In the end though, it was their defensive excellence that made the biggest mark on the game.

“It was an honor to be a part of this game,” Jimenez said. “We just wanted go out and give it our all.”

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