Hey, looks like the guy the Cubs hired to recruit Yu Darvish might be able to play a little catcher as well. CI readers already knew that, of course, but more casual fans probably don’t know much about Chris Gimenez beyond his connection to Darvish. Actually, most of them may not even know that much.
More than just a personal caddy for Darvish, Gimenez is quickly establishing himself as a valuable part of the team and a very capable handler of other pitchers.
“The sequence was great for a guy who has never caught me,” Jon Lester said of his battery-mate following a five-inning outing that saw him rack up three strikeouts against only three hits and no walks or runs.
Lester was referring specifically to Gimenez’s calls on a backwards K against former Cub Luis Valbuena, but the catcher’s heroics earlier in the at-bat were even more exciting. After a pair of singles and a ground-out, the Angels had David Fletcher at first and Kaleb Cowart at third with one out and Valbuena coming to the plate.
As opposing runners are wont to do with Lester on the mound, Fletcher broke for first in an attempt to put two runners in scoring position and/or bait a throw that would allow his teammate to score. Depending on the situation, most catchers would just put the ball in their pocket, but Gimenez sprang from his stance and fired down to second to get the runner. Cowart, seizing the opportunity to get his team on the board, sprinted toward the plate.
Except…wait…it was just a pump fake from the 35-year-old backstop, who was still holding the ball and was easily able to tag the wayward runner.
Pump Fake just worked. First time in baseball history. @ChrisGimenez5 – pro.
— John Baker (@manbearwolf) March 9, 2018
Lester then made quick work of Valbuena as part of an outing that saw him throw only 50 pitches. That efficiency was mainly on the veteran lefty, but his catcher did him more than a few favors along the way.
Check this great sequence of shots from CI’s resident photog, Jon Strong.