09/30/2003 8:17 PM ET
A work of Stew-art in the field
Outfielder makes a gem of a play to rob Yanks
Stewart robs Matsui
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- For sparking the Twins lineup in the second half, left fielder Shannon Stewart earned some MVP consideration with his bat.
In a tense Game 1 of the ALDS vs. the Yankees, he saved the day with his glove.
Stewart's brilliant catch of Hideki Matsui's bottom of the ninth flyball helped Minnesota win, 3-1.
"If that ball drops and goes off the wall, it's a totally different inning," first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said.
Minnesota was clinging to a 3-0 lead with no outs and a runner on first against closer Eddie Guardado. Matsui skied a long fly the opposite way. As the ball carried to the left field warning track, Stewart made a leap and snare of the ball as he crashed hard into the wall.
Making the play more difficult was a bright sun and some rabid Yankees fans waving their arms over the fence. Stewart also banged his head into the wall as he came back down.
"As long as I made the catch, I could have banged every part of my body," said Stewart, who was also 2-for-5 at the plate. "Some Twins fans out there were saying good catch. The Yankees fans were pretty upset and throwing beer on me and saying some things I can't say on the radio."
Guardado didn't think the ball would fly that far.
"It kept on carrying and Stew going back on it," said Guardado, who got the save. "I was watching it all the way. As soon as he hit the wall, I knew he had it. But I just hoping it didn't come out when he hit the wall. It was a hell of a catch."
How hard was Stewart's crash into the wall?
"The glasses came off and the hat came off," Stewart said. "So I probably hit it pretty good. I was so into it, I'll probably feeling it later on tonight. Right now, we won so I feel pretty good."
Known for his flair for dramatic catchers, reigning two-time Gold Glove center fielder Torii Hunter was impressed by Stewart.
"Everybody says Shannon isn't a good left fielder. I think Shannon is a real good left fielder," Hunter said. "He's been tremendous over there. Maybe his arm is a little weak but I think he's going to be all right."
"On a play like that, you just have to tip your cap," said New York's Aaron Boone, who was on deck. "Shannon's play was the play of the game."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This report was not subject to the approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.