Damon's Steal: instant history

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On the one hand, the double steal by Damon in the 9th doesn’t really
matter, right? He’d be on second base before the A-Rod hit and still
would have scored, even if someone had thought to cover third.

On the
other hand, Brad Lidge was on the mound, and that guy is something less
than grace under pressure. You know he was worked up about that play
when he hit Teixeira, and you have to figure he was still thinking
about it when he threw the pitch to A-Rod. Heck, he may have still been thinking about the Pujols homer in the 2005 NLCS or that time he got the wedgie during 7th grade gym. Fine pitcher all things considered, but an ice man he is not.

But who cares about the cold analysis here: as it happened, were you thinking anything but “WOW!” or, if you’re a Phillies fan, at least a hearty “WTF?!!”  I personally have no horse in this race, but I’ll admit that I stood up and shouted at
my TV when Damon took off from second, just as amazed at the steal itself as I was at how quickly he reacted, realizing that
there was no one at third and that he had the edge in the footrace. My
next thought was “man, they’ve been playing baseball for more than 150
years, so you’d think everything that has happened could happen, and
then something like THIS happens.” I’m guessing some guy will dig deep
somewhere today and find an account of this happening before, but the
fact that he’ll have to dig is testament enough to that play.

But maybe it hasn’t happened. Think about the perfect storm of
weirdness that had to occur for Damon to be able to swipe two: (1) the overshift
had to be on with the third baseman covering the play, just like they did for Teixeira; (2) someone had to be stealing with an overshift
on, which by definition means that someone is attempting a steal when a
fierce pull hitting lefty is at the plate, which is usually a dumb play — you let your slugger slug; and (3) a defensive brain fart had to occur, at least to the extent that the
pitcher not covering third on a stolen base — something which doesn’t
come up too often — can be considered a brain fart.

If I had to guess,
I’d say that someone got a double steal awarded to them on a bad
scorer’s call at some point, when an error really should have been
recorded. My guess is that it happening exactly like Damon did it has never
happened before.

I also have to guess that with Cliff Lee going next, my pick of the Yankees in six is looking pretty safe. Although, if shell shock and momentum and all of that enters into it, they may just wrap it up tonight.

Video: Adrian Beltre belts a walk-off home run on Monday against the Athletics

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 25:  The Texas Rangers celebrate the two-run walk off homerun by Adrian Beltre #29 against the Oakland Athletics at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Rangers found themselves in a 5-1 hole after three innings against the Athletics on Monday, but scratched out some runs in the middle innings. That allowed them to enter the bottom of the ninth inning trailing by only one run, 6-5, facing A’s closer Ryan Madson.

Adrian Beltre, who hit a solo home run in the seventh inning, stepped to the plate with a runner on first base and two outs. He was the Rangers’ last hope to keep the game alive. The veteran third baseman swung at Madson’s first pitch, a 96 MPH fastball, and drilled it to left-center field for a walk-off two-run home run.

Beltre now has nine walk-off home runs in his career. While the 37-year-old isn’t quite the offensive dynamo he was even two years ago, his numbers are still respectable. He’ll head into Tuesday’s action batting .281/.334/.468 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI in 392 plate appearances.

Jay Bruce: “This is such a fleeting game. It’s so unforgiving.”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 25:  Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds swings and watches the flight of his ball as he hits a two-run homer against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the fourth inning at AT&T Park on July 25, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Outfielder Jay Bruce was the catalyst in the Reds’ 7-5 victory over the Giants on Monday night, drilling a pair of two-run home runs. It’s good timing for the Reds, as the trade deadline is six days away. The Reds might prefer to get a prospect or two for Bruce rather than pick up his $13 million club option for 2017 or buy him out for $1 million and let him walk into free agency.

It was only a year ago that it seemed like the Reds would have to settle for next-to-nothing to get rid of Bruce. He posted career-lows across the board in 2014, including a .654 OPS and 18 home runs. He improved last season, returning to 26 home runs, but came with an uninspiring .729 OPS.

This year is another story. Bruce is currently hitting .272/.326/.564 with 23 home runs and a league-best 77 RBI. He’s on pace to set career-bests in a lot of categories if he’s able to stay healthy.

Bruce was honest about his resurgence, though, admitting that he doesn’t know why he’s so much better this year as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

This is such a fleeting game. It’s so unforgiving. You’re never settled. You’ve never got it. You’ve never figured it out. It’s like a puzzle that never has all the pieces to it. You might get close and feel pretty good about your progress, but you never are going to have the puzzle put together.

Bruce, who welcomed a child into the world back in April, also discussed the difficulties of hearing his name bandied about in trade rumors once again.

It’s harder this year. I have a family I have to focus on now. Logistically, it’s much more intricate. I know the skit. I know how it goes. But it will be nice when it’s passed because we’ll have a plan of attack on whether my family is staying where they are in Cincinnati or elsewhere.

This is a point of view that is not often covered. This time of the year can be very difficult for players who may be traded, as they await a phone call that could send their lives into upheaval. It may mean being away from their families for three months. It means living out of a hotel room or finding a place to live on very short notice. Even Bruce’s comments about his success this year are illuminating about the mental strain of the game.

As usual, great reporting by Buchanan. His full article is worth your time.