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Notes: Cycle thefts rare feat
07/06/2006 8:47 PM ET
ST. PETERSBURG -- Carl Crawford stole for the cycle Wednesday night, swiping second, third and home. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rays outfielder is the first player to turn the trick in the same game since Tom Goodwin of the Rockies did it in 2000.

Crawford also became just the seventh American League player to go for the base stealer's cycle since World War II and the first since Gerald Williams of the Yankees in 1996.

But it was Crawford's steal of home -- the first of his career at any level -- that everybody wanted to talk about.

Jorge Cantu was the batter on the play and did not receive any signal about a steal coming.

"He saw me," Crawford said. "So Cantu, man, that was heads up."

Cantu said he could see Crawford coming.

"It was a fastball, too, that I was going to swing at but, I saw him coming," said Cantu. "When the ball passed home, C.C. was right here."

Cantu illustrated his point by holding out an arm's length.

Rays manager Joe Maddon called Cantu's action "impromptu," then he deadpanned: "I think what I found was that Carl yelled 'Cuidado' as he was running down the line. That's, 'Watch out!'"

Crawford offered this analysis: "Ah, man, I was just running."

Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell marveled at Crawford.

"He's so fast, it's unbelievable," Lowell said. "[Tuesday] he stole third from a standstill with both hands on his knees. Most guys, they try to get momentum. He's going from a standstill. Everyone talked about Deion [Sanders] and how fast he is, but I've never seen anyone faster than [Crawford]. He just goes from a standstill [position] to full speed so quickly. Even [Tuesday], his triple, he's waltzing into third and most guys are only getting to second on that. It's impressive. God, I wish I ran like that."

Hollins back with the team: Damon Hollins was back in uniform Thursday night after taking a red-eye flight back from San Francisco, where he and his fiancée, Patrice, had a baby girl, Tahari.

"I just want to make sure I show her all the right things," Hollins said. "Make sure she sees the important stuff and gets raised right."

An added pleasure for Hollins was being able to provide his mother, Deborah Watson, with a grandchild.

"My mom's been wanting a grandbaby since I've been old enough to have babies," Hollins said. "She's so happy. She has a smile on her face that's real big. She's happy and she's proud. That's her first grandbaby, because I'm her first child."

Bullpen improvement: On Thursday, Maddon took note of the improvement he's seen in the Rays' bullpen.

"Right now you look at what the guys are doing," Maddon said. "Brian [Meadows is] doing a great job, [while Shawn] Camp, [Chad] Harville, [Jon] Switzer [have] done a great job at the end of the game. We want to have four guys you'd be willing to pitch [when the score is tied or we have the lead]. Right now, we're at that point. ... It's kind of strange how it got to this point, the names that are involved, but it's there."

In 27 games last month, the bullpen recorded five saves and posted a 4.37 ERA -- its best cumulative ERA of the season and a big improvement over April's 5.74 ERA. Thus far in July, the group has posted a 3.02 ERA in five games.

Walker's surgery: Rays closer Ty Walker had successful Tommy John elbow reconstructive elbow surgery Thursday in Birmingham, Ala., performed by noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. Walker is expected to be out 12 months.

By the numbers: Entering Thursday's slate of games, the Rays' 108 home runs this season are tied with the Phillies and Brewers for seventh most in the big leagues and are 17 more than any other year in club history at the 85-game mark. The Rays' club record for a season is 162, set in 2000. The Rays are on pace to hit 206.

Prior to June 7, the Rays were batting .240 as a team. Since then, when Rocco Baldelli, Cantu, Aubrey Huff and Julio Lugo all appeared together in the lineup for the first time this season in the team's 59th game, the Rays are batting .282 (259-for-918) over their last 25 contests.

From June 11 to Wednesday, Rays pitchers have posted a 3.39 ERA, lowering the club's overall ERA from 5.34 to a season-low 4.79.

Up next: The Rays begin a three-game series with the Yankees on Friday night at 7:15 ET at Tropicana Field. Right-hander Jae Seo will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Jaret Wright.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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