Ian Kinsler's bid for 30-30 nipped for now
With two stolen bases already under his belt Sunday, Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler was sniffing for No. 30 on the season, the one that would grant him entrance to the exclusive 30-30 club for a second time in his career.
And then with Andres Blanco on third, Kinsler on first and an 0-2 count on Esteban German, the Seattle Mariners called a pitch out.
"They read it and called the pitch out," manager Ron Washington said, "and they got him."
In the sixth inning, Kinsler walked, stole second for No. 28 and then easily made it into third for No. 29. He would come home to score on German's fly that turned into a four-base error to put the Rangers ahead 6-3
The caught-stealing ended Kinsler's streak of 28 consecutive swipes, what was the longest active such streak in the majors. He hadn't been caught since April 15 at New York. It was the third time all season that he'd been thrown out.
"The goal is to try to steal a base and be as sure about it as possible," said Kinsler, who went 3-for-4, including his team-leading 31st home run in the third inning, a two-run shot for a 3-1 lead. "Obviously, I've been thrown out before and I'll probably get thrown out again. The goal is just to be as consistent and as sure of yourself as possible."
Kinsler has three more games to try to reach the 30-30 milestone. He had 31 homers and 31 steals in 2009. Washington plans to give his starters some rest as the AL West champs look forward to Friday's start of the postseason, so it's uncertain just how many more chances Kinsler will get.
Kinsler has three seasons of 25-plus stolen bases, one shy of Bump Willis for the club record. Alfonso Soriano is the only other Rangers player to hit at least 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the same season, doing it in 2005. The 30-30 classification is one of those special numbers in baseball that obviously shows the rare combination of power and speed.
Kinsler could become the first Rangers player to do it twice, but it doesn't mean to have a whole lot of meaning for him.
"Honestly, I think it means more to my teammates," he said. "They're the ones rooting me on and trying to tell me to steal an extra base and get there. Honestly, I could care less if I end the season at 29. It really doesn't matter to me. But it's just the style of game I like to play. I like to run and try to cause things to happen on the bases, and I guess stolen bases are a product of that."
Kinsler reached base again in the seventh inning, but with the Rangers leading 11-4, stealing second was not a consideration.
* To no surprise, Washington reiterated that starting pitcher Derek Holland is part of the playoff rotation, but he has not decided which game he will pitch, likely either Game 2 or 3.
* Washington gave Nelson Cruz a thumbs-up in his return to right field for the first time since he strained his left hamstring in late August. Cruz had served as the DH for seven games before taking Saturday's game off. "He's well. He moved well out there." Cruz is still trying to get his bat going again. He was 0-for-3 Sunday, dropping his average to .264.
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