Torii nabbed trying to steal home against Royals
KANSAS CITY -- With the bases loaded and two out in the second inning of Wednesday night's 3-0 win over the Royals, Twins outfielder Torii Hunter saw right-hander Jeremy Guthrie go into the windup and attempted a straight steal of home.
Hunter tried to catch Guthrie off-guard, but Guthrie was able to throw home to catcher Salvador Perez just in time to get Hunter at the plate to end the inning. Hunter got a nod from manager Paul Molitor to attempt the steal after he timed Guthrie's delivery and decided to take a chance.
"I said if he doesn't look at me, I'm going, and he didn't, so I took off," Hunter said. "I saw a weak link there with his slow delivery, but he kind of sped it up and short-armed the ball. He threw it in the dirt and it was right there for [Salvador] Perez, who has a Gold Glove. But if he throws it anywhere up I'm safe."
After the play, all four umpires huddled behind the mound to discuss if Guthrie balked by speeding up his delivery to throw home quicker to get Hunter. But after a discussion, it was ruled Guthrie didn't balk and Hunter was out at home.
Molitor said he was pleased the umpires were thorough about discussing whether it was a balk, but he said it was still a strange play and that he wasn't sure if it was a balk. The skipper also indicated that he gave Hunter the OK to attempt the steal.
"I gave him a little nod and I wasn't sure if he took me seriously, but he did," Molitor said. "So it was a weird play. It was obviously a sped-up delivery once Guthrie saw what was going. It was awkward with him not getting his foot down before he released the ball. I wanted to get an explanation on a balk."
The last Major League player with a straight steal of home was David Peralta of the D-backs on Aug. 8, 2014. And the last Twins player to do so was Rich Becker on Sept. 27, 1997. Hunter has stolen home twice in his career, with the Twins in 2002 and the Angels in '08, but both were a part of a double steal.