Are you sick to death of “three true outcomes” baseball? Are you at the point where if you see another entire inning of nothing but walks, strikeouts and home runs without anyone but the pitcher, batter and catcher having any involvement with the ball, you’ll go mad?
Furthermore, do you miss the fun days of 1980s-style station-to-station baseball, when players like Rickey Henderson turned the basepaths into a track meet — stealing second, third and home, and sometimes even stealing multiple bases in the same inning?
Well, get out your framed, uncashed million-dollar checks, because Seattle Mariners center fielder Mallex Smith is making old-school baseball great again.
During Seattle’s 6-2 win over the Texas Rangers at T-Mobile Park on Monday, Smith one-upped even the mighty Henderson, as he managed to steal second, third and home on the same trip around the bases.
Smith walked with one out in the eighth, watching ball four from Rangers reliever Kyle Bird.
Smith then stole second and third in the same plate appearance, before the Mariners’ Mitch Haniger drew a walk himself.
Then, Bird tried to pick Haniger off of first base.
This was, to put it lightly, a bad decision.
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Against a left-handed pitcher, the runner on third base can take a longer lead, since the pitcher has his back to him while preparing to deliver the ball home.
Likewise, the runner on first can pretty easily bait a pitcher into a pickoff throw, since the pitcher is looking right at him the entire time. And of course, presenting the pitcher with a juicy target by appearing to be leaning the wrong way is a lure that’s tough to resist.
Adding insult to injury, catcher Jeff Mathis couldn’t hold onto the throw home, thus allowing Haniger to get to second base on the play.
Smith’s three steals in one inning, each of which you can watch below, accounted for his “stolen base cycle.”
It was the first time a Mariners player had stolen home since Dustin Ackley did it in 2012, according to MLB.com.
This was an impressive feat, to be sure, made even more so by the fact that Smith also stole second base in the third inning.
Even Mariners manager Scott Servais could hardly believe what he’d seen.
“It was great to see Mallex get going,” Servais said. “I’ve never seen anybody steal three bases in one inning.”
If Smith could raise his batting average from .176 and his OPS from .521, he’d really make Mariners fans happy.
Smith got himself sent to the minors late last month due to his poor play in April.
He hasn’t been much better since getting called back up, collecting just four hits in 25 at-bats before Monday.
He acknowledged as much and expressed hope that Monday’s performance will be the start of a hot streak.
“I’ve been doing nothing since I’ve been up here and I know that,” Smith said.
“But at the same time, I also know the player that I am. I just knew if I kept a positive attitude, upped my focus and continued to stay aggressive that it would come around. I’m anticipating it’ll continue to develop and I can help the guys get more wins around here.”
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