Quintin Berry's speed has been the one and only bright spot for the Tigers in a span where they've been searching for fill-ins for the seemingly never-ending list of injured players.
Wednesday's pair of stellar catches did nothing to decrease Berry's chances of sticking with the big league club once the trend of injuries begins to reverse itself.
In the first inning, the Indians' Jason Kipnis sent a ball straight at the 420-foot mark on the outfield fence at Comerica Park, straight over the head of Berry. He froze momentarily, then sprinted for the fence to make an over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track.
"Especially with the backdrop here, it’s hard when a ball first comes out, you can’t tell how far back, or if you should come in, so you gotta kind of pause, so it makes it kind of hard to go for those ones over your head," said Berry, who hadn't played in the spacious Comerica center field until this homestand. "You see both outfielders — especially in center — running for a little while, so it’s got some room."
His catch in the ninth inning was even more spectacular, as he got a picture-perfect jump on a ball headed to the left-center gap off the bat of Michael Brantley, and dove at the last second, laying full out to pull it in.
"It’s definitely a lot easier when the sun goes down to get good reads, with the background and stuff like that. Definitely had a good jump on that one," said Berry, laughing at the comparison to Austin Jackson, who rarely, if ever, dives for a ball in center. "I don’t have as much range as him, I guess, because I dive a little bit. ... I mean, there’s a reason he doesn’t have to dive. I’m going to have to give every inch to get what I can get."
Berry's weren't the only stellar catches, though. Former Tiger Johnny Damon made a leaping catch at the wall in left, robbing Prince Fielder of a home run to start the bottom of the second inning.
"He's always been a good athlete. He got back there in time and was able to time his jump right," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. "Normally when Prince hits them, they don't come back. It was definitely surprising. Anytime somebody robs a home run, it's surprising."