The single most exciting play in baseball: a straight steal of home plate. The San Diego Padres, a night after collapsing with a ten run lead again teased their fans and the upper management by executing their first straight steal of home in nearly four years.
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The last Padres steal of home was completed by Everth Cabrera, but that was not on a pitch, it was with Los Angeles Dodger closer Kenley Jansen falling asleep on the mound and losing track of a very fast Cabrera.
This was a pitcher on the mound about to deliver from the stretch, and then Upton extends his lead and takes off. Chris Rusin sped his delivery up a little, delivered a strike that actually struck out Drew Pomeranz and then the ball was in Colorado Rockies catcher Nick Hundley’s hands. Hundley, a more than effective defensive catcher, lunged out to tag Melvin Upton and by all rights should have had him dead at the plate by three feet.
However, Upton executed a masterful body control move; sliding feet first he offered his right hand to the plate, which Hundley lunged for from his knees, then Upton pulled his right hand back, sliding to the inside of home plate, and with Hundley laid out flat on his belly, Upton slid out of his reach to the inside of the plate and applied his tag to the plate with his left hand as he drifted by the plate. Tag? Avoided. Home plate? Stolen like yesterday’s lunch money.
No missed bunt, nothing tricky, just a straight steal of home. Rusin was in the stretch too, which makes it even more amazing as he didn’t have the lengthy windup. Indeed, if you watch the replay, Rusin is in the stretch with the bases loaded, whereas many pitchers often switch to the windup as they are more proficient with the windup, and you can see him speed up his delivery to get the ball home.
The funny thing about this? This is NOT the first time Melvin Upton has stolen home. He has done it at least FOUR times now, once here against the then Anaheim Angels in 2007, before they annexed Los Angeles into Anaheim to become the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. (Strangely, the only time an organization has ever WANTED Los Angeles!) He also did it here in a spring training game against Toronto, albeit on a double steal, and then kinda here where he was safe after the balk by the Oakland pitcher. I’ll give it to him. If I don’t he’ll just steal it.