Carrera goes all out in first Tigers start in center

Carrera goes all out in first Tigers start in center

NEW YORK -- When the Tigers traded center fielder Austin Jackson to the Mariners in a deal that brought them left-hander David Price, they were also giving Ezequiel Carrera a chance in the outfield.

And in his first start in center field with the Tigers on Monday, Carrera rewarded his club with a spectacular diving catch in the third inning that not many people at Yankee Stadium -- watching from the dugout, or the stands or the bullpen -- would have given him a chance to make.

With no outs and the bases loaded, Jacoby Ellsbury drove a pitch from Max Scherzer deep into center field. Carrera raced back and dove, fully extended, for the ball over his head, and secured the ball in the heel of his glove, sliding at the edge of the warning track.

"We're going to see that one replayed from a while," Scherzer said. "That was spectacular."

Although Ichiro Suzuki scored from third base for a sacrifice fly for Ellsbury, Carrera's play likely saved two additional runs. The Tigers would go on to lose the game, 2-1.

"When I broke, I was aggressive the whole way," Carrera said through an interpreter. "I didn't stop, and my velocity remained the same. Just trying to make a play, not thinking, just based off my instincts."

As Ian Kinsler watched from second base, he wondered why Carrera did not just slow down to prepare to play the ball off the wall. Torii Hunter, who has his own collection of highlight-reel plays, watched from right field and barely believed it.

And Ellsbury, who knew he had hit the ball hard, was stunned.

"I haven't seen a better play made all year," Ellsbury said. "The time of the game. Bases loaded. Just a tremendous play. Shows his athleticism to get that ball. I think that's three RBIs, and at least a triple. That kept them in the ballgame. If that ball lands, it might break open the game for us."

Carrera had appeared in two games with Detroit since being recalled after Thursday's trade, but appeared as a defensive replacement each time, in part because of his potential to make plays like this one.

Scherzer was one of the few who actually gave Carrera a chance at the ball.

"Typically, when left-handed hitters go into that gap, usually they're hitting it with backspin and the ball hangs," Scherzer said. "Even though I knew [Ellsbury had hit the pitch well], I knew the ball was going to hang up in the air, and usually when you have a fast center fielder, it gives them a chance to run it down.

"First start here with us and goes out and makes a play like that. I'm buying him dinner, lunch, whatever."

Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.