With his speed, Duran achieves Red Sox feat not done since 2016

May 22nd, 2024

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The only thing the ultra-fast hadn’t done thus far in his career was steal home.

That changed at an opportune time on Tuesday night as the electrifying leadoff man was on the front end of a double steal that stood out as the highlight as the Red Sox downed the Rays, 5-2, at Tropicana Field.

After going 2-15 at Tropicana Field over the last two years, Boston has won its first two games under that roof this season and will go for its first three-game sweep at The Trop since April 19-21, 2019, on Wednesday.

Part of the reason the Red Sox are more equipped to compete at Tropicana Field is because of their young and athletic roster, and nobody exemplifies that more than Duran.

“Athleticism,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “We’re in a better place. We’re versatile. We can play their game. We can come here and play defense and run the bases and be aggressive and hit the ball out of the ballpark. And we can pitch, too. So, we won the series. Let’s get greedy. Come here [Wednesday], put together another good game and finish the road trip the right way.”

Judging by his exploits on Tuesday, Duran certainly seems poised to finish strong. After belting a game-tying homer in the sixth, Duran worked a strong at-bat for a seven-pitch walk in the eighth to set up the first steal of home by the Red Sox since Travis Shaw on April 21, 2016.

Did Duran enjoy the homer or the theft of home more?

“I mean, both obviously, but stealing home to give us an extra run is always awesome,” said Duran. “So I liked to be able to help the team today.”

With two outs, Rafael Devers was on first and Duran was at third. On an 0-1 pitch by Jason Adam, Devers took off for second.

Rays catcher Ben Rortvedt fired over for what should have been a routine out of the slow-footed slugger to end the inning.

But second baseman Brandon Lowe instead fired home, where Duran dove in safely for an insurance run.

“Looking back at the play, my fault,” said Lowe. “I jumped up to catch the ball, left my feet to catch the ball, and no matter what the situation is, I'm probably not gonna throw Duran out off my back foot. I've got to understand who's running at third and understand how close Devers actually was to me. I saw him stop out of the corner of my eye.

“I thought that he was probably going to backpedal. Didn't end up backpedaling, but it still falls back on me. I have to know that, the speed that's on third, I'm probably not going to throw him out, but I have a chance to run Devers down before he gets to the plate. And looking back on the video, it's obvious I should have done that from the beginning. It just sucks that it happened.”

Interestingly, Devers -- who saw his club record streak of homering in six straight games come to an end -- didn’t execute the play the Red Sox wanted him to.

“We talked about it. If we’re gonna stop in that situation, you have to stop a lot sooner,” said Cora. “You don't stop right by the bag, so it’s just a teachable moment.”

For the Red Sox, it was a case of all’s well that ends well.

Once Devers took off, Duran took advantage of a primary lead of 21.6 feet and roared home at a sprint speed of 28.8 feet per second.

Duran celebrated the moment by pumping his fist on his way back to the dugout, where he was mobbed by his teammates.

“Me and [third base coach Kyle Hudson] were talking and he was just making sure that if they threw, he was like, ‘You’re going’” said Duran. “So as soon as I saw him throw the ball like I was full go to go home. So that's what we were looking for."

It was Duran’s first steal of home since last season, when he pulled off the feat for Triple-A Worcester at Scranton. That one was a rather unique straight steal.

“Their catcher was just lobbing it back to the pitcher and me and [coach Jose Flores] were just licking our chops,” said Duran. “And he's like, ‘Hey man, if they lob one, take it.’ So I just, I just end up taking it.”

Duran generally takes whatever the opposition gives him. And on Tuesday, the Rays created just the opening he was looking for.