Jacoby Ellsbury sets Red Sox record with five steals

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Jacoby Ellsbury reached base in five of his six plate appearances last night and wreaked havoc on the Phillies once he was there, setting a Red Sox record with five steals.

Ellsbury stole all five off catcher Erik Kratz, who came into the game having thrown out 40 percent of steal attempts during his career. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said afterward that much of the blame was on the Phillies’ pitchers for letting Ellsbury “get a walking lead.”

Not only did Ellsbury set the Red Sox record for steals in a game, he became just the 20th player since 1970 to swipe five or more bases in a game. No one had done it since Carl Crawford and Dexter Fowler in 2009 and Ellsbury is just the fifth player to do it in the past decade. Baseball-Reference.com’s indispensable “Play Index” has the full list, which includes Alex Cole and Eric Young doing it twice each.

Ellsbury, who led the league in steals in 2008 and 2009, has swiped 21 bags in 54 games while being caught just twice.

Ramón Laureano made an absolutely ridiculous play yesterday

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I talked about it in the recaps, but dear lord does Oakland A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano’s play in yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays deserve it’s own post.

Jays first baseman Justin Smoak led off the second with a single Then Teoscar Hernández then came up and hit a long drive to center. In what, in and of itself, would’ve lead the highlight reels yesterday, Laureano ranged back to the wall and reached over to rob Hernández of a homer.

Laureano is known best for his arm, though, and that’s when he unleashed that hose, attempting to double off Smoak at first base all the way from the warning track. The throw was not on target — indeed, it sailed way past first base — but that was itself impressive as all get-out. As A’s pitcher Brett Anderson said after the game, he’s pretty sure the throw went farther than Hernández hit the ball in the first place. The arm strength on display there was simply phenomenal. But it was also lucky.

Lucky because the throw went so far into foul territory that it gave Smoak the courage to break for second base. Laureano was not the only one playing great defense on the play, though: A’s catcher Nick Hundley backed up the play, got Laureano’s errant throw and fired it down to second, nailing Smoak. And heck, Hundley’s throw was nothing to sneeze at either:

That did not go as an outfield assist for Lauerano, obviously, as his bad throw — which would’ve been an error had Smoak managed to advance, we must admit — broke that up. So, in the books it goes as an F7 and then a separate 2-4 putout. Still, it just shows Laueano’s incredible defensive abilities, both with the leather and with that cannon he has for an arm.

An arm that, this play not withstanding, gets him plenty of assists. Indeed, he has has five assists this season already and has 14 assists in just 70 games, which is a lot. To put it in perspective, it usually takes somewhere between 12-18 to lead the league in a full season with 20 being an outlier of sorts, only seen once every five years or so.

So, if you’re gonna hit it to center against the A’s, make sure you hit it all the way out. And if Laureano gets to it, for god’s sake, don’t run on him.