04/21/10 12:57 AM ET
Rangers run wild at Fenway Park
Club nets nine thefts against knuckleballer Wakefield
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
The record was eight, set last year, and they had stolen just six in their first 12 games. But they were planning on running at every opportunity against Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and catcher Victor Martinez.
"We talked about it before the game," shortstop Elvis Andrus said after Texas' 7-6 loss to Boston.
The Rangers did more than talk about it. They did run almost every chance they were given and ended up stealing a franchise-record nine bases while Wakefield was in the game. A season-high nine walks helped put the Texas in position to make it happen, especially with Wakefield relying almost exclusively on the knuckleball.
"We've got to take advantage of it," outfielder Nelson Cruz said. "It's hard to be a catcher -- catch that knuckleball and make a good throw."
Martinez also came into the game having thrown out just one basestealer in 14 attempts.
The Rangers ran so much that Cruz had to leave the game in the ninth inning with a cramp in his right hamstring. He is expected to play on Wednesday.
Cruz said the cramp wasn't from stealing bases, but he did have a career-high three swipes. So did Andrus, who also had three walks and two runs scored in the leadoff spot. Vladimir Guerrero had two steals and Julio Borbon had one. Three of the nine steals were of third base.
"Again, that's a hard way to win," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We understand that. We're very aware of that. We're doing the best we can. Guys will work and we're going to try to do better."
Guerrero has three stolen bases so far this season. He had two all of last year.
The Rangers broke the record of eight they set against the Red Sox on Aug. 15, 2009. Brad Penny was on the mound for the Boston in that game. Texas also set a club record on Tuesday with five stolen bases in the third inning alone.
The nine steals were the most by a team at Fenway Park, which opened up 98 years ago on April 20, 1912. It was the most steals by one team in a Major League game since the Marlins swiped 10 against the Padres in a 6-2 loss on May 18, 2000.
The Rangers have been successful in their past 29 steal attempts against the Red Sox since Chris Davis was thrown out on Aug. 14, 2008, at Fenway.
The nine steals was typical for the Rangers. When they go into a game feeling they can steal bases, they are going to be ruthless about it.
The Rangers stole 149 bases in 2009, and 73 of them came in the 19 games in which they stole three or more bases. Texas doesn't just run to run, it runs to be successful. The club was second in the American League with 149 steals last year, and it led the league in being successful on 80.5 percent of its attempts.
"If we get in a certain situation, we know what we need to do," manager Ron Washington said. "We're going to take advantage of it."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.