How the Texas Rangers stole home
Before Saturday afternoon, nobody had stolen home in the postseason since Brad Fullmer in Game 2 of the 2002 World Series. In the first inning of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, Texas Rangers Manager Ron Washington decided Elvis Andrus was going to do it.
There were two outs. Andrus, perhaps the speediest player in the playoffs, stood on third base after he had already taken second on a pitch that squirted away from catcher Jorge Posada and third on a steal that did not draw a throw. Josh Hamilton stood on first after a walk.
Washington spotted a moment for one of his favorite gambits. Hamilton would break to steal second. Posada would throw to second base. Hamilton, if need be, would get himself into a rundown. Andrus would sprint home with the game's first run.
Washington had called the play three times this year. It had only worked once, against Boston around the all-star break. The two other times, something went wrong, and Washington took it as a personal affront. "They blowed me up," Washington said. "They picked me off. They got me."
How did he know it would work Saturday? "I didn't," he said. But Washington thought the odds were in favor, and he could not resist.
"The opportunity was there," Washington said. "It was set up perfect, as far as I was concerned."
From the dugout, Washington gave the sign. That alone brought with it the chance to doom the play.
"It's not a straight steal sign," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "It's a completely different sign."
Washington was unworried about any sign-missing snafu.
"They know the difference," Washington said. "It's not like, 'Oh, s---, I'm mixed up.' "
And so the play unfolded just as Washington hoped. Posada threw to second, Hamilton slowed down, Andrus bolted home and Cano's rushed throw sailed wide. Rangers, 1-0.
"It surprised me," Kinsler said. "For Wash to be able to come up with that and to put that on was huge."
When he called the play, much of Washington's confidence lay in his belief Posada would throw through all the way to second base. He seemed to have picked up a sign that, in case of a steal of second, Posada would indeed try for the runner.
"If Posada fakes it, I'm f-----," Washington said. "But he didn't, because he was told to throw through."
As he spoke afterward in a corner of the Rangers clubhouse, Washington rubbed his chest, as if he indicating he had seen Posada signal that to his infielders to tell them he'd throw to second. (He did not explicitly say that; that's how I interpreted the gesture. I could be wrong.)
Either way, the steal of home, one of the postseason's rarest plays, had given the Rangers the lead, had stemmed any momentum the Yankees gained in their comeback Friday night.
"It was," Andrus said, "a great play."
| October 16, 2010; 10:29 PM ET
Tags: ian kinsler, jorge posada, ron washington, texas rangers
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