ST. LOUIS – There’s an old sports adage of “defense wins championships.” And while that might prove truer in football, basketball and other sports compared to baseball, Nolan Arenado’s defense will undoubtedly be a big part of any championship aspirations for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Dazzling defense set the stage for the Cardinals’ 6-5 comeback victory Friday night as St. Louis nears its fourth straight postseason berth. Arenado put his talents to the test to complete arguably one of the toughest plays he has faced this season.

In the fifth inning, Arenado dove down the third base line for a hard-hit bouncing ball down the third base line. Then, he launched a throw from his knees to gun down a runner at home plate for the force out.

Best described by Bally Sports Midwest play-by-play announcer Dan McLaughlin, “Arenado from his knees. OH, WHAT A PLAY! An incredible play, Nolan Arenado. Holy smokes, that was amazing.”

The play proved critical in the Cardinals mitigating a big inning from the Reds. While Cincinnati scored three that inning, including one more after Arenado’s play, it kept St. Louis within striking distance.

“Only one person makes that [happen], and that’s him,” said Cardinals manager Oli Marmol. “He’s the best third baseman in the game, hands down. To make the grab to begin with and the throw and be right on the money altogether, the difficulty of that play is pretty crazy.”

ESPN praised Arenado’s play as the No. 1 highlight in its SportsCenter “Top 10” from Friday night. Just two innings later, he picked up the game-winning hit in the seventh amid a Cardinals comeback sparked by Albert Pujols’ 698th career home run.

“Nobody else in baseball does that,” says Cardinals starting pitcher Jack Flaherty, on the mound during Arenado’s play. “He’s special. That was unbelievable by him just to see that. And then the guys came through.”

Arenado is battling for his 10th consecutive Gold Glove Award, which would match a record held by Seattle Mariners icon Ichiro Suzuki for most to start a MLB career. The third baseman’s defensive metrics this year indicate he’s on a good pace, currently sixth in baseball with a 2.2 defensive WAR and sixth in defensive runs saved with 17.

Some may consider Nolan Arenado a human highlight reel based on his defense alone, which has generated quite a handful of memorable plays this season…

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