Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Steal of home helps Yankees down Rays (w/ video)

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NEW YORK — There were a number of things the Rays did wrong, in commission and omission, throughout Friday's 6-3 loss to the Yankees.

"Frustrating loss," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I don't think we did too many things well tonight. … Not a ton of quality things to talk about."

But it was a play the Rays couldn't really do anything about that stood out — Yankees centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury scoring the tying run in the fifth inning by brazenly stealing home.

"A very unusual play," Cash said.

Even more so because of the situation, down a run with men on second and third with two outs and a 3-2 count on lefty-hitting Brett Gardner. But with Rays lefty starter Matt Moore in a full windup, Ellsbury made a daring dash home, sliding in headfirst with his right hand swiping across the plate before Curt Casali could get a tag down.

"I knew if I took off, I would make it," Ellsbury said. "That's the ultimate adrenaline rush for a base stealer."

And it was an extreme downer for Moore, who was called for a balk two pitches earlier and caught totally off-guard by Ellsbury's decision.

"Not a very good inning for me," Moore said. "It was one of those things I didn't think they were going to put their scoring opportunity at risk."

Moore, with his back to third, was mid-windup when Casali threw up a hand, hoping to catch Moore's attention as others yelled. Moore, sensing something was amiss, tried to adjust but threw a high fastball.

"I'm not sure if I actually saw it or felt it," Moore said. "I could hear different things — 'Step off, hurry up.' It was some time about when my hands were over my head I tried to shorten everything up to get it there. If it was just a foot lower, Curt doesn't have to reach as high and go back down.''

Or, Moore said, if he had thrown a better pitch Gardner may have had "a really tough decision" on whether to swung since it would have been strike three.

"It was definitely a risky play on their part and if I would have executed a little bit better then we would have had an out right there," Moore said.

It was the first time in their 2,930-game, 19-season history the Rays allowed a straight steal of home.

Casali said it was a bit of a helpless feeling. "Definitely caught us off-guard,'' he said. "I didn't see if (Moore) checked him before he starts his windup but I guess he got a really good jump based on the video I saw.''

Cash said the only thing Moore could have done was pitch out of the stretch. Moore said he, like most pitchers, feels more comfortable in the full windup and with a runner on third didn't anticipate a threat.

It was the second time Ellsbury — an in-game replacement for injured centerfielder Aaron Hicks — stole home, having done so for the Red Sox against the Yankees in 2009. It was the Yankees' first straight steal of home since a chap named Derek Jeter did so in 2001.

New York took the lead for the first time in the sixth, though Moore did well in limiting the damage to one run. Beltran and Teixiera rapped back to back to back singles then, after Alex Rodriguez popped out, Brian McCann, who homered earlier, struck again with an RBI single to left. In his past 11 games against the Rays, McCann has 17 RBIs.

The Rays (7-9) took a 2-0 lead but wasted chances for more against starter CC Sabathia. A glaring one was in the fourth. With Brandon Guyer on first after an RBI single and two outs, Evan Longoria drove a ball to deep right, but Guyer, who has decent speed, was stopped at third by third-base coach Charlie Montoyo, even as Yankees rightfielder Carlos Beltran threw to second base. From the way Montoyo hung his head it appeared he made a bad read, though Cash said Guyer might have had issues, too. "Weird play," Guyer said.

Weird night.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected].

   
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