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Tampa Bay Rays have method to prevent Johnny Damon's double steal for New York Yankees in World Series

PHILADELPHIA — There was something the Phillies could have done to prevent Johnny Damon's stunning one-man double steal Sunday.

Actually, there were several things.

The Rays frequently run the same defensive shift against left-handed pull hitters the Phillies got in trouble with.

But they haven't had a runner take advantage of them the way Damon did, stealing second then breaking for third when he saw the base was uncovered.

Infield coach Tom Foley said by phone Monday they employ two strategies to prevent it: SS Jason Bartlett is told that if 3B Evan Longoria takes the throw at second to immediately break toward third; and C Dioner Navarro reminds the pitcher to cover the open base. "We think they know, but we yell at Navi to make sure," Foley said. "So far, it just hasn't happened to us."

Damon said it was the first time he tried that move, and he doesn't even attempt to steal second too often against the shift, but saw an opportunity because Phillies closer Brad Lidge doesn't hold runners on well.

"A lot of time when the shift is on the pitcher might be a little quicker so you tend not to go as much," Damon said. "I think it was just something that other teams don't practice so it kind of caught everyone by surprise — especially my teammates."

WWJDD: Damon's daring dash was not unprecedented. There were at least two previous occurrences of the same play, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark: Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips did it Aug. 1, 2007, when Washington was shifted against Adam Dunn; and San Francisco's Willie Mays did it on Sept. 30, 1971, when the Padres were shifted against Willie McCovey.

ROSTER MOVE: With CF Melky Cabrera "very limited" due to a mild left hamstring strain, the Yankees received MLB permission to replace him on the roster, adding utility INF Ramiro Pena. That allowed Jerry Hairston, the other backup infielder, to be used in the outfield.

PLAYING DEFENSE: Phillies CF Shane Victorino got defensive and annoyed when asked pregame about comments from Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa saying the Yankees were having so many mound meetings because the Phillies have a reputation for stealing signs.

MISCELLANY: Alex Rodriguez's two doubles gave him a Yankees record 18 postseason RBIs, one shy of the overall record. … The Yankees will announce their Game 6 starter today; it's expected to be Andy Pettitte. ... The Phillies' 24 postseason homers match the fourth most alltime, behind the Giants (27 in 2002), Rays (26, 2008), Astros (25, 2005). … Eric Hinske, who was with the Rays last year and the Red Sox in '07, joined Don Baylor as the only players to participate in three consecutive Series for three different teams..

Tampa Bay Rays have method to prevent Johnny Damon's double steal for New York Yankees in World Series 11/02/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 3, 2009 1:30am]
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