Stealing multiple bases in one game requires an assortment of abnormalities. A player either has to reach base three times, stealing second and third each, or reach base four-plus times, or heck, even stealing home. It's not like this feat is going to be accomplished by someone without a history of stolen base success either, so the battery should already be well aware of the player's presence on the basepaths. Perhaps that's why only two players since 1954 have accomplished what Carl Crawford did today.
In five plate appearances today, Carl singled four times and walked once. In the first Carl stole second then advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Jason Varitek. Varitek and Brad Penny formed the battery for most of the day, and Crawford took advantage of them like an unguarded plate of delicious cookies. Entering today, Penny had allowed runners to steal on him successfully about 73% of the time, meanwhile Varitek had only managed to throw out 28% of attempted thieves this season.
Crawford took advantage of the pair again in the third, swiping another bag, and twice more in the fifth. Through five innings, Carl Crawford had four steals. In the seventh Crawford singled, stole second, went to third on an Evan Longoria single, and eventually walked home on a bases loaded plunking by Manny Delcarmen. Then, in the eighth, with an insurance run desperately needed, Crawford sprinted as quickly as he ever will, beating out an infield single hit towards former teammate Julio Lugo, giving the Rays a two-run lead and giving Crawford the opportunity for another stolen base.
Pitcher Ramon Ramirez threw over multiple times, coming close only once to nabbing the fleet-footed Crawford. Finally, on a 2-1 pitch, Crawford bolted, leaving doubt in the dust and Longoria holding the bat on a fastball down the middle. Crawford had stolen base number six, joining a fraternity that includes Eric Young and Otis Nixon. Not a glamorous crowd, but one that won't add many members over time.
Perhaps the best part of such an accomplishment is the feeling of power that Crawford must've felt every time he took his lead. The Red Sox wanted badly to stop him, so badly. This was a close game throughout, if they tag Crawford out once or twice, who knows how the game winds up. Each creeping footstep by Crawford sent a million different impulses through the Sox heads. They knew he was going, yet they were completely and utterly helpless.
Unfortunately for Terry Francona, there was little to do. One would assume the calls for pitchouts came from the bench, although they were far too late and far too ineffective. It probably wasn't in the Sox best interests to turn the game into a lobfest over to first base. That meant Francona had to sit on the bench, hoping for Crawford to hit into an out. Today it wasn't happening. Benching the team captain Varitek because he can't throw out anyone - including Michel Hernandez - probably isn't something Francona cared to attempt either, plus it's not like George Kottaras has a better arm by any means, his is simply younger. Now it will be a question the Boston media will almost certainly inquire about.
Meanwhile, Crawford can take solace in the fact that no matter how many pitchouts or pickoffs they attempted, nobody could stop Carl Crawford. Not even Carl Crawford himself.
And that's how things are going lately.