Barnhart missed the first five games of the 60-game season because he was on paternity leave. He has started four games since returning to the roster and is hitting .333. He made his name earlier in his career on the defensive side with that Gold Glove award and showed again Monday why he’s so valuable in that area.
On the bouncing ball in the eighth, Barnhart said his only goal at first was to keep the ball in front of him. He said 99 times out of a 100 he’d be happy doing just that and not worrying about the runners.
“It all happened so fast,” Barnhart said. “I had no chance with Allen at third, and the runner at first broke a little late. I could see (shortstop) Freddy (Galvis) motion for the ball and took a chance. As long as I’m accurate, I like my chances that the guy at third won’t score. It’s a big play. A guy at third with less than two outs is rough.”
Instead, the Indians had Allen at third with two outs. Nate Jones then got out of the inning but striking out Lindor.
Reds manager David Bell said the two throws by Barnhart changed the complexion of the game. The plays meant more because Barnhart let a wild pitch by Gray get by him in the second, allowing Oscar Mercado to score from third with two outs and giving the Indians a 2-0 lead.
“He might be the best we’ve ever seen at blocking balls,” Bell said. “He’s human, and that happens. What’s most impressive is how he responded. That’s why he’s here. To then lock in and have two opportunities to make a difference in the game, it’s pretty special for a catcher to be able to do that.”