For the second time this season, Elvis stole home. Or, more correctly, he stole a run.
His aggressiveness far too often gets him thrown out in key situations and leads to aggravation and name calling—and critical outs. But sometimes it leads to things of beauty.
Last year, he stole home straight up. He was on third in a tie game in the thick of the pennant race, the Padres pitcher went into his wind up, Andrus broke for home, beat the throw, and untied the game the Rangers would go on to win.
In early June he stole home a bit more unconventionally. He was on third, the Rangers were down 2-1 against Seattle, Hisashi Iwakuma was dominating, and Bobby Wilson hit a lazy fly ball to left. Fortunately, even lazier was the left fielder who, upon seeing Elvis nonchalantly make his way back to third, tossed a what-the-heck throw back in, which triggered Elvis to bolt for home and score safely, catching the Mariners totally off guard. That tied the game the Rangers would go on to win.
Last night he did it again. It’s pretty hard to score from first on a single up the middle. As we have seen in huge situations, like say a certain game in Toronto in October, Elvis is often unable to make it from first to third on a single up the middle.
But last night, he caught the Rays napping. He was on first with two outs when Ian Desmond singled sharply up the middle. Not being a playoff do-or-die situation, the Rays allowed him to take the extra base and move on to third.
But once again Elvis was heads up. As he explained it to MLB.com’s T. R. Sullivan, “I was trying to check out the center fielder to see if he relayed the ball to the infield hard or slow.”
It was slow.
So, Elvis continued on home. He scored the Rangers’ second run of the game, and Texas went on to win 6-2.
Beltre was 4-for-5 with two home runs. Moreland hit his twenty-first homer. Desmond picked up two hits. And Profar broke out of an 0-for-19 slump with a double.
Oh, and Cole Hamels was his usual dominating self on the road, no-hitting the Rays for most of six innings. He’s now 9-2 with a 1.91 ERA away from the Ballpark.
Last night’s game was pretty much perfect baseball. Dominating pitching, clutch hitting, power, only one Texas error, and the bullpen was asked to get fewer than six outs.
And Elvis’s aggressiveness paid off.
Let’s just hope he understands when it won’t.
A. J. Griffin (5-2, 4.68) vs. Jake Odorizzi (7-5, 3.72)
Game time: 5:10
How the Rangers hit against Odorizzi.
How the Rays hit against Griffin.