Gurriel Jr. steals home off Chris Sale

Lourdes: 'I just saw the challenge, the opportunity and I just went for it'

April 10th, 2019

BOSTON -- The Blue Jays watched the Red Sox receive their World Series rings in a grand pregame ceremony. They then made a splash of their own, playing the role of spoiler with a head-turning play Tuesday afternoon in their 7-5 win at Fenway Park.

With Red Sox left-hander on the mound, the Blue Jays were aggressive with their bats -- and their baserunning -- in a three-run fourth inning. A racing pulled off a straight steal of home with two outs, emphatically sliding in headfirst as Sale's pitch soared wide of catcher to give Toronto a 5-2 lead.

"Basically, I was looking at home plate and I couldn't wait to get there," Gurriel said through a translator.

and hit back-to-back singles to open the fourth, and then Grichuk advanced to third on a passed ball by Vazquez. Gurriel hit an RBI single to drive in Grichuk, and another passed ball by Vazquez allowed Jansen to score and Gurriel reach third.

With Sale working from the windup, Gurriel successfully swiped home.

"That was a little different," said Sale, who struggled in his third consecutive start. "I was geared up to throw a slider. I saw that he took off. I tried to re-grip it and just kind of pushed it the other way. Part of it, you know? Got to be prepared for that."

The Red Sox -- and future opponents -- will have to keep situations like this in mind as the Blue Jays have taken on the attitude to "be bold" as they look to turn around their slow start to the season. Manager Charlie Montoyo encouraged capitalizing on a chance to steal home, and he mulled it over again later in the game.

"We needed to take chances, and we did," Montoyo said. "It was pretty cool."

Boston manager Alex Cora noticed a hungry young player making the most of an opportunity to have an impact. Gurriel had entered the game batting .074 in eight games before going 2-for-4 with an RBI in the win.

"The kid took a gamble," Cora said. "He rushed the pitch and he yanked it and threw the wild pitch. If [Sale] throws the ball right down the middle, he's out by five feet. They're aggressive. They're going to try to do that. We knew that. They haven't had too much traffic during the season, but today they put pressure on us. We weren't good at it."

Guerriel is the first Major League player to steal home this season, and the first member of the Blue Jays to do so since Kevin Pillar achieved it on March 31, 2018, against the Yankees. Entering the game, Gurriel had recorded just one stolen base last season as a rookie, and prior to his mad dash, Toronto was the only team in the Majors without a stolen base this season.

"I just saw the challenge, the opportunity and I just went for it," Gurriel said. "That doesn't happen every day. It was my first time, so I was very emotional at the moment."

A play like this is the kind of spark that can boost the Blue Jays after starting off the season 3-8. They will have an off-day on Wednesday before returning to Fenway Park on Thursday evening with Aaron Sanchez on the mound opposite the Red Sox’s Nathan Eovaldi.

"It's 11 games. I'm not going to panic," Montoyo said before the game. "They're young guys, so we're going to be all right. We're going to make an adjustment."

Stealing home certainly is an adjustment to make.