The long ball isn't coming for Tampa Bay in the World Series, with exactly one homer on the board through three games. So the Rays turned to the stolen base on Saturday, and it worked beautifully. B.J. Upton chalked up three stolen bases and Carl Crawford added one as well in Game 3, giving the club four on the night and 22 in the playoffs. Rays runners have been caught only three times, good for an outstanding 88 percent success rate.
The steals total sets a new record for a single postseason, surpassing the mark of 20 posted by the 1975 Reds and the '92 Braves. Tampa Bay previously set a record by hitting 16 home runs in the ALCS against Boston, a nifty power-speed double.
"We do what we need to do to win that day," Upton said after the Rays' 5-4 loss. "Sometimes it's with the bats, and sometimes it's putting pressure on the defense. Today, that's exactly what we did. We put pressure on the defense, put guys in scoring position and took advantage of the opportunities that we had."
|The Rays' B.J. Upton stole second base in the sixth inning and second and third in the eighth, tying the record for steals in a World Series game.|
|Honus Wagner|| |
Upton's three steals tied a record. He became the fourth player in World Series history, and the first in 40 years, to swipe three bags in a single Fall Classic game. He was the first to do so in a loss, however.
The last to steal three in the World Series was Lou Brock in 1968. Before that, Brock also did it in '67, Willie Davis stole three in a game in '65 and Honus Wagner had three in a single contest in '09.
"It's kind of cool," Upton said, "but I'd rather win than have that. But at the same time, those are great ballplayers, and to be in the same sentence with those guys is pretty unbelievable."
Like his teammates, Upton has made it a power-speed double. Upton has cranked seven homers this postseason, including four in the ALCS. But he has yet to hit one in the World Series. In a low-scoring Fall Classic, the Rays were eager to get running on Saturday night.
"We play like that anyway," Crawford said. "But definitely, since we're not hitting, we have to try to step it up a notch in that area."
|With B.J. Upton's theft of second and third base in the eighth inning Saturday night, the Rays notched their 21st and 22nd steals of the 2008 postseason, breaking the Major League record.|
Upton's second and third steals loomed as enormous plays in the taut Game 3. After reaching base on an infield hit to lead off the eighth, he stole second. Then he took off for third, and when Carlos Ruiz's throw skipped away from Pedro Feliz, Upton raced home, scoring the tying run without a ball leaving the infield.
That placed his name alongside Wagner's in another way. They are the only two players in World Series history to execute that particular sequence -- stealing second, stealing third and scoring on a throwing error.
Upton, who stole 44 bags in the regular season, was running on reliever Ryan Madson as much as Ruiz.
"I just had to see how quick he was to the plate," Upton said. "He wasn't really slow, but right there, I was trying to get in scoring position, so a base hit scores me. I've been doing it all year, stealing bags. He had a high leg kick, and I got a pretty good jump both times. [Ruiz] threw the ball and it hit off me, and we scored a run."
Crawford's steal also led to a run, as he took third against Jamie Moyer and scored on Gabe Gross' sacrifice fly.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.