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Gio Urshela limped off the field after a brutal crash in the sixth inning Sunday and most thought that would be the last they see of the shortstop at least for the day. Urshela had run full speed to grab a foul ball and slid face first into the visitor’s dugout.
But Urshela came back out in the top of the seventh, had one more at-bat and thanks in part to his “epic play,” in the Yankees 1-0 win over the Rays, he expects to be able to play in Tuesday night’s American league Wild Card Game at Fenway.
“I mean I feel really good, just a little sore,” Urshela said. “That was incredible play, trying to help my team…..I think it could be worse….I just hit a couple parts of my body.”
Urshela was actually way over to the right of the normal shortstop position in the shift when Rays outfielder Austin Meadows popped one up just near third base. Catcher Gary Sanchez tried to get there, but Urshela sprinted full speed to make the catch underhanded at his knee at a full sprint. He took two more steps before slipping on the top step of the visitors dugout and tumbling in.
“I was scared for him,” Jameson Taillon said. “Honestly, you never know going in there. I thought maybe it could have been a head injury or maybe his knee hit the bench or something. So everyone was holding their breath. That was extremely scary.
“It’s not surprising, a guy like Gio willing to give up his body for the team,” Taillon continued. “I mean, he’s been playing through some stuff all year, it seems like he’s played great defense all year. I mean, just one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with. And he shows up on defense every single time. So that was a big moment. That’s got to be one of the best catches given the circumstance of game 162 and everything that’s got to be one of the best catches I’ve ever seen.”
Urshela said the Rays players and coaches were over him after he fell to check on him. The Yankees on the field sprinted over the dugout, as did Yankees manager Aaron Boone, and the team’s trainers. Team doctor Chris Ahmad also rushed onto the field and over to check on Urshela.
“We got really lucky from my vantage point. I mean he looked like a missile flying in there and it scared me to death. I jumped out and ran straight over there not knowing what I was gonna see,” Boone said. “On the dead run like that. I mean you go headfirst into that bench or something. I mean really scary stuff. The fact that he just missed some key parts probably but I know a really good bruise on his thigh.
“We’ll see what we have,” Boone said of Urshela on Tuesday. “But a scary play, a great play. And a guy that’s wanting to win.”
The play drew obvious comparisons to Derek Jeter’s dive into the stands in a 2004 game against the Red Sox.
“I mean he went to the stands and I went to the dugout, but at the end of the day the he made that play,” Urshela said. “And I made that play too.”