Elvis Andrus explains how he pulled off his straight steal of home in beautiful pantomime
In the seventh inning of Tuesday night's Rangers - Padres game, Elvis Andrus found himself standing on third base with a new catcher and pitcher in the game following inuries to both Derek Norris and reliever Shawn Kelley. With Kevin Quackenbush not paying attention, Elvis Andrus took off for home, giving the Rangers an 8-4 lead along the way. The run would prove important insurance as the Rangers would go on to win, 8-6, the Padres leaving runners on the corners when the game ended.
While Andrus has stolen home four times before, including pulling off the feat in the 2010 ALDS, all the others came on double steals. Beyond it being Andrus' first straight steal of home, it's also the first home-plate robbery with no one else on base since Colin Cowgill pulled it off on Sept. 21, 2013. (And, you could argue, his was more of a botched squeeze play that turned out well for the Angels.)
Unfortunately for Torii Hunter, he unsuccessfully attempted to steal home with the bases loaded earlier this season.
After his swipe, Andrus used the ancient art of pantomime to show off how he knew when to go. Honestly, add a few potatoes dancing and this is a Charlie Chaplin bit.
But for those of you who don't quite speak dugout silent movie, how did Andrus manage to pull this one off?
It helped that the Rangers had just taken a 7-4 lead with three runs that inning and, with two outs and a right-hander on the mound, it would be absurd for Andrus to try to score, right? After all, wouldn't Quackenbush simply have to glance up at any time before Andrus got a full head of steam to be able to easily cut him down? And would Andrus and the Rangers really want to take a chance instead of seeing if Will Venable could get a base hit?
With the idea of Andrus stealing home about as foreign and absurd as someone telling you your refrigerator is a portal to another dimension, Quackenbush was focused solely on his next pitch, with Yangervis Solarte even stretching in anticipation of the pitch.
With no eyes on him, Andrus took off. Just look how far down the line he got before the crowd's building roar got Quackenbush to look up and attempt to shorten his throw to home.
In case you're wondering, that's a 16.99-foot lead with a 15.687-foot secondary lead according to Statcast™.
Throwing off his backfoot, Quackenbush shortarmed it (or, with a football metaphor, "Brett Favred" it) and, by sheer force of will, got it to home plate before Andrus. In his rush, Quackenbush only got a Statcast™-measured 80.44 mph toss to the plate instead of his average 90-plus mph fastball.
Even caught off guard and with a below average fastball, Quackenbush may have been able to nab Andrus had he thrown it to the low, glove-side position that Austin Hedges appeared to be setting up in before the pitch.
Just to show you close the play could have been, even despite Andrus' great jump and Quackenbush's quick pitch, I used the power of extremely rudimentary photo editing to show that had Quackenbush's pitch been to the third-base side rather than toward first base, Andrus could very well be out. Even a pitch straight down the middle would give the Padres a good chance of catching Andrus.
Which just goes to show how difficult it is to steal home and why so few runners attempt it. Not only do you have to be fast, and not only do you need a great jump and not only do you need to catch the pitcher off guard, but you're still hoping that your feet can beat the flight of a thrown baseball. Not to mention how seriously peeved the batter will be if you get thrown out and he doesn't get a chance to bat with a runner in scoring positon.
Of course, because it's such a rare play, it's something to be celebrated. Though some fans will have no choice but to simply bury their heads in their hands:
While others will be all smiles: