Hech of a play preserves Alvarez's no-hitter
Marlins shortstop makes leaping grab to open third inning
MIAMI -- The Marlins list Adeiny Hechavarria as 6 feet, 185 pounds.
The 24-year-old shortstop used every bit of his height to help Henderson Alvarez make his mark in MLB history.
Hechavarria's leaping catch to rob Ramon Santiago of a single to open the third inning on Sunday afternoon was a defensive highlight in Alvarez's no-hitter against the Tigers at Marlins Park.
"I was just playing defense and made the play," Hechavarria said. "Then in the sixth inning, I realized he was throwing a no-hitter. I started thinking, 'My play in the third inning was a big play.' I was thinking, if he throws a no-hitter, he better thank me. That play ended up being pretty important."
Every bounce and break went the Marlins' way in their 1-0 walk-off win over the Tigers in the season finale.
The Marlins haven't had much to cheer about in a 62-100 campaign, but Alvarez and Hechavarria are two building blocks. The two were obtained last November from the Blue Jays as part of a blockbuster, 12-player deal.
A Cuban native, Hechavarria is a rising defensive star, and he's made several spectacular plays in the final weeks.
"Hechavarria made a great play, but it was a team effort," said Alvarez, a Venezuelan native. "Everybody contributed. Everybody played great defense."
In the span of two weeks, Hechavarria has made a couple of terrific leaping grabs. At Philadelphia on Sept. 18, he showed his jumping skills by snaring Cody Asche's hot liner.
Which of his hang-time efforts was better?
"The one in Philadelphia was hit harder, so I was able to jump higher," Hechavarria said. "I had to jump from the spot to get to it. This one, it wasn't hit as hard, and I was able to take one or two steps back to be in position to jump and make that play."
The game didn't have much meaning to the Tigers, who had already clinched the American League Central, and they weren't playing stars like Miguel Cabrera.
"Everybody's trying," Santiago said. "It's not like we didn't try. Like I said, he had good stuff today.
"I think you have to grind it [out]. It's still a regular-season game. I know we already clinched, but at the same time, you're a professional. You get paid to go out there and grind and play the game, try to win the game, no matter the situation."
Alvarez was throwing strikes, and the Tigers were being aggressive.
"When a guy's throwing a no-hitter, everybody wants to be the one to break it," Santiago said. "He was around the plate. He was throwing strikes. Everybody tried to put a good swing on it. It didn't happen."
For the Marlins, the weekend gave a taste of what it's like to play in meaningful games.
"Just the three games in general, it felt like the playoffs," Hechavarria said. "To sweep that club, it felt like we won a playoff series."