Berry's feet take on Molina's arm -- and win
ST. LOUIS -- Quintin Berry's career baserunning resume entering Sunday: 24-for-24 in stolen-base attempts in the regular season and 4-for-4 in the playoffs, including 2-for-2 this month.
Yadier Molina's recent catching resume: the fewest steals allowed of any qualified National League catcher in five of the past six regular seasons, along with a league-best 37.4 percent caught-stealing rate over that span. (Opposing baserunners largely quit trying to steal against him years ago, knowing how adept he is at throwing them out.)
The force won.
Though Berry's stolen base did not result in a run for the Red Sox, it was his 29th successful swipe as a big leaguer, so on a night when baserunning made a significant impact -- Cardinals fans will not soon forget Kolten Wong's game-ending pickoff to seal St Louis' 4-2 loss -- Berry's achievement is certainly worth noting.
"I know who's behind the plate, so I've got to get a good jump and be smart on the basepaths," Berry said. "I'm not going to try to just be prideful and just go and get thrown out in these situations with this much at stake. I felt like I could get a good jump on him, so I took it when I could."
Though Berry has not been caught on the basepaths in the Majors, he likens the feeling of being picked off to wanting "to throw up." A careful baserunner, he studies film of pitchers prior to a series to learn their tendencies, and is guarded about when he breaks for second.
Against Molina and reliever John Axford, Berry initially thought about going on a 2-0 pitch but decided better of it. Once the count ran to 3-0, he figured Axford would extend his leg kick high enough for him to spring safely to second, which he did. The steal moved him into scoring position with two men out, though Xander Bogaerts later struck out to end the inning.
"As it goes on, it will mean more," Berry said of his streak. "But at the same time, that kind of stuff will get you away from being aggressive on the basepaths. You don't want to concentrate too much on not being caught, because then you get too selective and you're not the same baserunner. So hopefully it won't happen in this postseason. In my career, it's definitely going to happen. I try not to worry about it too much, because I've got to do what I've got to do."