Simba's crafty steal catches Astros napping

August 25th, 2020

Angels shortstop has long been known as one of the more instinctual players in baseball, and he showed off those skills yet again with his heads-up steal of third base in the third inning of Monday’s 11-4 loss to the Astros.

Simmons led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Anthony Bemboom to set the stage for his daring play. Simmons noticed that Astros left-hander Framber Valdez was adjusting his cap behind the mound and that third baseman Jack Mayfield was smoothing out some dirt near the outfield grass and had his back to the bag. Simmons darted for third and while the throw there beat him, Mayfield couldn’t handle it as Simmons slid in for the stolen base.

It led to a run for the Angels, as David Fletcher followed with an infield single to first baseman Yuli Gurriel that otherwise wouldn’t have scored Simmons from second.

“Not everyone can do that,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Simmons' heads-up play. “You have to be watching for it. He does. He sees things. We were fortunate the ball dropped, but I was good with taking the chance there. You saw how good Valdez can be, and you have to attack really good pitchers. You can’t wait for them to give up three-run homers, so I was good with that play.”

It was also a good sign for Simmons, who is coming off a sprained left ankle that kept him out of action for more than three weeks. The four-time Gold Glove Award winner returned on Friday, and the Angels are being cautious with him. Simmons wasn't in the lineup for Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader, but he will be in there for Game 2.

“He looks like he’s running better to first base to me, also,” Maddon said. “He’s making some progress.”