Cristian Pache is turning into a regular highlight machine in center field for the Athletics, and his latest installment came Friday night in Oakland's 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
With two outs in the fourth inning, the Twins outfielder Gilberto Celestino crushed a slider from Zach Logue to center field, sending Pache sprinting back toward the wall.
It seemed like the ball was sure to drop on the warning track for at least a double, but Pache caught up to it, reached out with the glove and snared it before crashing into the wall and tumbling to the ground.
Pache covered 101 feet to make the catch, per to StatCast.
Logue, who was making his first career MLB start, told reporters that he might have to reward Pache for the catch.
“I think I owe Pache maybe a dinner or something like that,” Logue said. “That was an incredible catch.”
Logue pitched well despite taking the loss, giving up two runs on two hits in five innings. Pache helped him avoid giving up a third hit and putting a man in scoring position in the fourth.
“I’ve seen him make some crazy, crazy catches, so whenever you see him run after it, I think you know he’s capable of it,” Logue said. “It’s nice to see him patrolling center field for sure.”
Pache hasn’t yet found the hitting stroke in his young big league career, with a .177 batting average this year. He’s not the only one scuffling, as the A’s bats have gone quiet throughout their losing streak that reached seven games on Friday.
But it’s clear that Pache’s defense needs little development. It’s why manager Mark Kotsay keeps penciling him in the lineup.
“He’s showing his worth out there, gap to gap, left-center gap, right-center gap,” Kotsay said to reporters. “The kid can go get it.”
Kotsay, who played center field in the big leagues, said he understands how far Pache has to range to make the spectacular catches he’s been pulling off.
“Really difficult catch going into the fence,” Kotsay said. “As a former center fielder, I know the feeling as you’re running. He really went a long way for that ball.”
Pache has made sure that the A’s aren’t missing much defensively with Ramón Laureano waiting to come back from suspension. Laureano, who is as stellar a defensive outfielder as there is in baseball, is on track to join the team Sunday in Minnesota when he’s eligible to return.
What happens with Pache when Laureano comes back remains to be seen. But he’s shown that he’s more than capable of playing defense in the big leagues.