Duran makes Red Sox history with 2nd steal of home ... this season!

June 8th, 2024

CHICAGO -- Red Sox outfielder put his speed and heads-up baserunning on display in an eventful trip around the bases during Boston's 7-2 loss to the White Sox on Friday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

And to cap it off, Duran pulled off one of the more unusual steals of home plate that you may see -- as Chicago attempted to appeal whether he touched first base just moments prior.

“Just trying to cause havoc on the bases, man,” Duran said. “I’m blessed with the legs, so I'm just trying to use them as much as I possibly can.”

After a leadoff walk by Bobby Dalbec in the third inning, Duran hit a chopper back to White Sox starting pitcher Garrett Crochet. Duran sensed it would be a close play at first, but also a tough play for Crochet coming off the mound.

The White Sox lefty fired a low throw to first baseman Andrew Vaughn. Once the ball skipped down the right-field line, Duran was off to the races.

“I was just keeping my eye on [Dalbec],” said Duran, who appeared to miss first base as he ran through the bag. “If [Dalbec] was gonna go, I was gonna get all the way to third.”

Duran advanced to second and, without hesitation, kept chugging to third as Dalbec scored to tie the game at 1. Rob Refsnyder then stepped to the plate, but before he could settle into the batter’s box, Crochet had another throw to make.

With his back turned to Duran at third base, Crochet stepped off the rubber and threw over to Vaughn. The White Sox were appealing whether Duran touched first base initially. The moment Crochet stepped off to throw over, Duran took off for home plate. Vaughn could not corral the throw, and Duran scored easily.

“We noticed he missed first from our end,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “We were telling [Duran], ‘As soon as [Crochet] engages, go.’ If [Crochet] steps off and tries to make a play on him, hopefully he's safe at the plate and we can steal a run.

“What we were trying to do is move to the next play, instead of the appeal,” Cora added. “To move to the next play, and the next play was him trying to steal the plate.”

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said they were prepared for Duran to try to steal home. He instructed Crochet to throw to first and not make a play on Duran, which would have ended the chance to appeal.

First-base umpire and crew chief Alan Porter called Duran safe on appeal, despite Crochet’s errant throw, a call Grifol said he did not see. Amid the confusion, the White Sox window to challenge whether Duran hit the bag closed.

“We knew the rule, we knew what to do, we knew how to execute it,” Grifol said. “They knew it. And I thought time had elapsed, but I guess I could have asked him, ‘Hey, I didn’t see the appeal. Can we challenge this now?’ And [Porter] said he would have let us challenge. So, at the end of the day, that one’s on me.”

It marked the first time a Red Sox player has stolen home since ... Duran, who did so on May 21. Prior to that, Travis Shaw on April 21, 2016, was the last Red Sox player to pull off the feat. Duran is also just the third Red Sox player since 1974 to have two steals of home in a season (Dwight Evans in 1974 and Fred Lynn in 1975).

The eventful top of the third led to a worrisome moment for Boston in the bottom half. Right fielder Tyler O’Neill exited the game with right knee discomfort. O’Neill, who walked off the field gingerly with Cora and a trainer, was activated off the 10-day injured list on Wednesday after missing nine games with right knee inflammation.

O’Neill said he felt “pretty good pregame,” but felt the issue when catching a Paul DeJong fly ball in the second inning.

“I still don’t think the diagnosis has changed,” O’Neill said. “Nothing structural or any worry about that. Just a bit of a flare-up. Hopefully give it some time, let it calm down a little bit. Really hoping it’s just a couple of days.”

O’Neill noted he’s aiming to avoid an IL stint. Whether the Red Sox need to make a roster move, however -- even if it’s ultimately just to avoid playing short for a few days -- is something they will discuss leading up to Saturday.

“Let’s see where we’re at tonight, and we’ll decide what we do tomorrow,” Cora said.