Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Rays best at stealing, but Rangers ready
By Jeff Caplan
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays ranked 13th in the American League in batting average, 12 spots below the AL's top-hitting Texas Rangers, yet the Rays finished third in runs scored with 15 more than the Texas.
Their secret? Stolen bases.
"Yeah, that’s important. They steal bases," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said nonchalantly. "I think we do the same."
Nobody's done it better than the Rays over the last three seasons. They've been No. 1 in the majors and were again this season with 172 stolen bases. The Rangers weren't far behind, ranking seventh with 123. The Rays also led baseball in drawing 663 walks -- 164 more than the Rangers. Tampa works the count, gets men on base, acts aggressively to move them over and gets clutch hits to bring them home.
Carl Crawford led the Rays with 46 stolen bases. B.J. Upton had 42 and Ben Zobrist took 24.
Rangers manager Ron Washington said he's not overly concerned with the Rays on the base paths, despite his battery mates ranking 26th in the majors in caught-stealing percentage.
"I don’t think they ran wild on us," Washington said. "We’ll do what we have to do to do that, and not only do the catchers have a part in that, our pitching staff has a part in that also."
In six games against the Rangers this season, Tampa stole eight bases. All of them came in three games, twice stealing three bases in a game.
"I don’t really think that teams have been running crazy on us and it’s not going to start now," Washington said. "We know what we have to do. We will do it, but I don’t think I need to tell the Rays about it."