Andrus leads way as Rangers keep running
Speedster swipes home in first inning, extends hitting streak
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers understand they are on baseball's grand stage, so they will smile and politely take questions about their baserunning tactics and ability to steal, cornerstones of their success all season.
Perhaps to some it is news, but to those inside Texas' clubhouse -- who have popularized hustle and speed with The Claw and Antlers -- it's just another day at the office.Still, watching Elvis Andrus swipe two bases -- including home -- on an impressive double steal was a first-inning boost and a pivotal moment in the Rangers' series-evening 7-2 Game 2 victory on Saturday. "Got us going," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of the play, which green-lit Josh Hamilton at first base with third-base coach Dave Anderson letting Andrus know that Hamilton was going to steal.
As soon as Andrus saw Hamilton break for second, he didn't hesitate and didn't even wait for Yankees backstop Jorge Posada to throw. Instead, Andrus put his head down and sprinted home, and after New York tried initially to nab Hamilton, the corresponding relay throw to the plate was too late. Andrus became the first player to steal home in the postseason since Brad Fullmer did it for the Angels in the 2002 World Series. It was also just the fifth steal of home in LCS history."You put that extra pressure on the pitcher, that extra pressure on the catcher and defense sometimes, it's going to be hard for everybody," Andrus said. "So, that's what we did." "I thought I had a chance at home, but he beat the throw," said Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who took Posada's throw and fired it back home without even trying to tag Hamilton. "You don't want that run to score." "If I realized I didn't have a chance at home, I would just tag him and get the out. I would be able to [tag Hamilton], but then I knew the run would score for sure."
Consecutive playoff games with hits to start career (SS)
It was a gamble on both ends, but with Hamilton being a good baserunner and Andrus' blistering speed 90 feet from the plate, Washington rolled the dice."Opportunity seemed right, so I took a chance," he said. "That's the way we play." Added veteran infielder Michael Young: "It's a dimension of our game we love to play. We want to make sure we are always pushing the envelope on the basepaths." Andrus made good on that mantra just minutes into Saturday's game, as he singled to open the contest and advanced to third on Phil Hughes' wild pitch. Before taking home, Andrus swiped third without a throw, and -- coupled with Hamilton's swipe after getting on with a walk -- the 22-year-old put the fleet-footed Rangers in the history books, tying an ALCS record with three steals in an inning. "That was a big key ... get on the board first and get in the rhythm of the game," said Andrus, who -- along with teammate Nelson Cruz -- extended his postseason hitting streak to seven games in the process, the longest such playoff streak in Rangers history.
Steals of home in LCS history
|2010||Elvis Andrus||Rangers||Game 2|
|2002||Scott Spiezio||Angels||Game 2|
|1997||Marquis Grissom||Indians||Game 3|
|1995||Jeff Branson||Reds||Game 2|
|1972||Reggie Jackson||A's||Game 5|
Playing in his first postseason, the 22-year-old Andrus went 2-for-4 with a run scored on Saturday and is fresh off an ALDS in which he led the Rangers offense with eight hits. He is the youngest player to either tie or outright lead his team in hits in the postseason since Gregg Jefferies of the Mets had nine hits in the '88 NLCS at 21 years old.But on Saturday, it was his speed that shone as the Rangers head to New York with the series tied at 1. "Our game is to be as versatile as possible," Young said. "We know we can have big innings we know we have guys who are capable of hitting balls in gaps, driving in runs, hitting balls out of the ballpark. But also, a dimension of our game offensively is we can push the envelope on the bases. And it's what we are going to continue to do."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.