Inability to stop running game burns Rays

Inability to stop running game burns Rays

Inability to stop running game burns Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rangers stole four bases in their 4-3 victory Monday night, leaving manager Joe Maddon a ripe target for second guessing.

Mike Napoli, who turned out to be the Rangers' slugging hero, had the first of the steals when he took second with one out in the second. That one didn't hurt the Rays, nor did the second, Craig Gentry's steal of second in the seventh. But the final two turned out to be the difference in the game.

With two outs in the seventh and Gentry on second and Ian Kinsler on first, the Rangers executed a double steal to put runners at second and third. After Elvis Andrus walked, the pair scored on Josh Hamilton's single to right, putting the Rangers up 4-1.

Second guessers will point at the fact that entering the game, Kelly Shoppach had thrown out 41 percent of would-be basestealers while John Jaso had thrown out just 17 percent. So why did Jaso get the starting nod, particularly given the fact that Shoppach had been swinging a hot bat?

"It's all based on [the other team's] pitcher," Maddon said. "Their pitcher's really, really good against right-handed hitters. The lefty is the side that would get him better, and Jaso [who hits left-handed] has a chance there to do something for us offensively. So that's it. It's not more complicated than that.

"Of course, our other guys are probably better at controlling the running game. But if you look deeper into it, look at Jaso with David [Price, Monday night's starter], that combination and how effective it's been this year. David has actually done pretty well with [Jaso] behind the plate. There are a lot of different things involved."

In short, what happened in the game did not prove the second-guesser's point of view since Jaso never had a chance to throw out any of the runners based on the leads they got.

"The only time I threw the ball was that one on Napoli, and I feel like I did a pretty good job getting rid of it and putting something behind it and getting it down there in a good tag zone," Jaso said. "The double steal? All I could do was eat that ball. [Gentry] had like a 30-foot lead. The only thing that [making a throw] would have done would have been to make a bad situation worse with errors. I wasn't going to get him."

A glitch by Brandon Gomes turned out to be the culprit in the double steal.

"It was supposed to be a no-look [at the runner at second] and I took too long," Gomes said. "He extended the lead. I should have just come set and go. ... He took advantage of it, got a walking lead and they stole pretty easily."

Jaso noted that there are a lot of things that can be done to shut down the running game.

"It's not just the catcher," Jaso said. "All I can do is throw. So I think they took advantage of that and did a great job of it."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.