Matthew Pouliot

Quintin Berry, Ben Zobrist

Boston’s incredible stolen base streak gets snapped, sort of

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When Daniel Nava was thrown out trying for second on a hit-and-run in the eighth inning Tuesday against the Rays, it marked the first time in the team’s last 46 attempts that a Red Sox player was caught stealing.

Of course, technically, that’s mixing regular-season and postseason games. No matter what happens the rest of this month, the Red Sox will have finished the regular season with a streak of 39 straight steals, and depending on how you want to look at it, they’ll also carry that into next season. It’s not some sort of sacred record, so MLB probably doesn’t care much either way.

But the Red Sox’s streak of 45 streak steals is somewhere around as unlikely as a 45-game hitting streak would be. Besides the Red Sox, AL teams were successful on 72.5 percent of their steals this year. That 72.5 percent is also roughly about how often a .300 hitter gets one hit per game. The major league leader (Adam Jones) had 121 one-hit games this year or 75.6 percent of his games played. Miguel Cabrera was up at 79.8 percent, while Andrew McCutchen was at 70.7.

Maybe that’s not the best comparison. But a team that stole at a .725 clip, like the rest of the AL, would have a 1 in 1.9 million chance of making it to 45 straight without being caught. Bump that up to an 80 percent success rate, it’s still 1 in 23,000. And then there’s Chase Utley; he’s the best percentage basestealer (min. 100 steals) since they started tracking caught stealing at 88.356 percent. Even at that success rate, getting to 45 in a row is a 1 in 262 shot.

The Rays’ all just wasn’t quite enough

Will Middlebrooks, Yunel Escobar
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The Rays used 22 of their 25 players in Tuesday’s loss, and they were one inning away from turning to their Game 5 starter. Still, no matter how much Joe Maddon maneuvered, there was no outgunning the Red Sox this week.

It was plenty close. The Rays got the break they needed in the second inning, when Stephen Drew’s near-three-run double was instead turned into an inning-ending double play by a leaping James Loney. With Jeremy Hellickson and Jamey Wright done after two, Maddon relied on lefties Matt Moore and Alex Torres to hold the fort for the late-game relievers. The Red Sox, better set up to face a righty with Daniel Nava, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew hitting consecutively, couldn’t get a rally going.

Alas, the Red Sox were able to outlast the Rays, even after Tampa Bay scored first. I was critical last night when Sox skipper John Farrell used Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa for just two batters apiece, but that meant Boston’s big three was fresher tonight than the Rays’ top three of Jake McGee, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney. It was Peralta the Red Sox broke through against, though the two runs were charged to Peralta. Rodney allowed another in the ninth.

Meanwhile, Breslow, Tazawa and closer Koji Uehara combined to allow one hit and strike out seven in 3 1/3 scoreless innings for the Red Sox. Breslow was particularly outstanding, fanning four in a row and getting five outs in all.

Give the Rays credit, though. It was a terrific effort, with nine pitchers throwing nine innings. Had it gone to the 10th, David Price was coming in, and the Rays just would have figured out Game 5 later.

Now it could be another harsh offseason for the Rays. Attendance didn’t increase as hope, so the payroll probably won’t add much from the usual $60 million-$65 million. Price’s salary will jump from $10 million to $15 million or so in arbitration, which could mean he’s made his final start for the club. James Loney figures to be too expensive to retain, so the Rays will have to dip back into the bargain bin at first base again. Rodney also seems certain to exit, as will several role players.

Still, even without Price, the Rays could put out a rotation of Alex Cobb, Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi, and Price will likely bring back another Wil Myers-type prospect to integrate into the lineup, plus perhaps another young pitcher or two. Despite the modest payroll, there will be no writing off the Rays anytime soon. Price or no, they’ll be back to scare the pants off the Red Sox and the rest of the AL’s heavy hitters again next season.

You’re forgiven, Jhonny Peralta

Division Series - Oakland Athletics v Detroit Tigers - Game Four
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“That home run right there, it couldn’t have come at a better time. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy.

That was center fielder Austin Jackson commenting on Jhonny Peralta’s huge three-run blast in Tuesday’s Game 4. The game-tying homer was his first in the six games since he returned from a 50-game PED suspension, and it played a big role in the Tigers’ 8-6 win.

Tigers fans were obviously in agreement with Peralta. Not only did they cheer wildly for the homer, which was to be expected, but they gave Peralta another huge hand as he took his position in left field the following inning.

They weren’t just cheering for the event, they were cheering for the cheater, too.

Which we’ve learned is pretty typical of fans. They talk big about steroid users until encountered with one playing for their team. ¬†Obviously, it’s true of some players as well.

It couldn’t have happened to a better guy? Really?