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If you feel like stealing a base tonight, head down to Fenway Park. The Red Sox are handing them out like Halloween candy, and the Rangers are happy to take advantage.
Boston has been basically defenseless when it comes to stopping anyone's running game this year – throwing out just 1-of-23 runners into Tuesday night – and things get even trickier when you have Tim Wakefield's(notes) knuckler on the hill. Armed with this information, Texas hit the ground running Tuesday, picking up an insane nine steals over the first five innings. Poor Victor Martinez(notes), it's been a rough night.
Elvis Andrus(notes) and Nelson Cruz(notes) led the running parade with three steals each, hobblin' Vladimir Guerrero(notes) swiped a couple, and Rotisserie whipping boy Julio Borbon picked up one as well. If this game goes on long enough, Bump Wills and Mark McLemore might get a couple of swipes in. It's the most steals the Red Sox have allowed in a game since 1913, and we've still got four innings to play. It's also a team record for the Rangers.
Often these types of bag runs are fueled by a bunch of double steals, but that hasn't been the case here – just one instance of players running at the same time. Bottom line, Texas identified a flaw and it's taking full advantage.
For those looking to exploit this weakness for fantasy purposes, have a look at the Boston schedule. Texas gets two more games on the Merry-Go-Round, then it's Baltimore, Toronto, Baltimore again, Los Angeles and New York.
Post-Script: So much for the value of the stolen base – the Red Sox rallied and eventually won the game in the bottom of the ninth, 7-6. The Rangers did not have any stolen bases over the final four innings. That established, Boston's weakness against the stolen base has been exposed over the opening three weeks of the year, and teams will continue to take advantage until further notice.