Montero Steals A Win

OK, I’m willing to admit my headline might not tell the whole story of Sunday’s game.

After all, Taijuan Walker was totally dominant, striking out a career-high 13 batters over seven brilliant innings in which he allowed two hits and one walk.

It was arguably the best start of Walker’s career  - he bounced back from a rough outing last time out to deliver a masterpiece and earn a 2-1 win over Fresno. But that’s not what I am going to type about.

I mean, come on.

Jesus Montero stole a base.

I did not make that up. Mr. Montero stole third base before scoring the winning run on a two-out infield single in the bottom of the seventh inning.

If not for Montero’s stolen base, the go-ahead run would not have scored, and we would still be playing right now. Probably.

It was Montero’s third stolen base of his life. He swiped the other two in the South Atlantic League in 2008, when he was an 18-year-old and presumably a little faster.

That’s why this was so remarkable. Montero is extremely slow for a baseball player. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter. Montero is here to crush baseballs, launch homers and rip doubles into the gap, and drive in runs. He’s good at these things, and he’ll probably get to do them in the Major Leagues again someday.

But he doesn’t steal bases. Unless an accident happens, which forces the issue. Here’s how it played out:

Montero was at second base and Ty Kelly was on first, the score was tied 1-1 and there was nobody out in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Xavier Avery was the batter, and he was bunting to move the runner up – which seemed to be the smart play, given how few runs were scoring yesterday.

Avery showed bunt but took the first pitch, and Fresno catcher Guillermo Quiroz fired down to second base to try to pick off Montero. He would have got him, too – except Montero realized it.

Montero knew he was dead if he tried to get back into second base, so he took off for third without ever having taken a step back towards second. He took his secondary lead on the pitch, saw Quiroz throw down and thought “Oh no, I better go” and took off for third.

Fresno shortstop Nick Noonan took Quiroz’s throw and fired to third baseman Chris Dominguez in plenty of time to tag Montero out. However, base umpire Jordan Ferrell saw something else – I guess he thought Dominguez missed the tag, because he called Montero safe.

An argument followed, as Fresno was sure they had tagged him out. But Ferrell stuck with his call, Montero was safe, and the only thing it could possibly be called was a stolen base for Montero.

Montero was still at third with two outs and he scored on an infield single by John Hicks to give the Rainiers a 2-1 lead. The Rainiers would not have scored in the inning if Montero didn’t steal third.

So there you have it – that’s how Jesus Montero stole a base.

Short version: he got picked off, realized it and took off for third, was thrown out, but the umpire missed the call.

Makes you wonder how that happens just once every six years, doesn’t it?

Tacoma’s win was its third in a row, and the team remains six games behind first-place Sacramento which also won on Sunday. The Rainiers shoot for their fourth straight win on Monday.

Monday’s game starts at 11:35 AM (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 11:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Jordan Pries (8-6, 3.90) against Fresno LHP Kelvin Marte (1-0, 4.15).

We had some roster moves yesterday:

Erasmo Ramirez was recalled by Seattle, and Lucas Luetge was optioned to Tacoma. Ramirez made the Sunday start for the Mariners, and then was optioned to Tacoma after the game. The Mariners will call up someone to take his spot today – quite possibly Michael Saunders coming off the disabled list.

The Rainiers placed reliever Carson Smith on the disabled list with a pulled muscle in his left side. Taking his spot is shortstop Ketel Marte, who was promoted from Double-A Jackson.

Links:

  • So you don’t care about Montero’s stolen base and you want to read about Taijuan Walker instead? Well, the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune is for you.
  • For more on Walker, he spoke with MiLB.com. This story includes video of him striking out Tyler Colvin for his 13th K – the curve was a huge pitch for him yesterday.
  • The Mariners beat the White Sox, 4-2, as Austin Jackson drove in all four runs. The M’s took three-of-four from the ChiSox.
  • John McGrath went to the Mariners game and found himself participating in an old-but-forgotten-in-these-parts pastime: scoreboard watching. Manager Lloyd McClendon has some good quotes in this one.
  • Sacramento leads the Pacific-North by four games after taking advantage of six Reno errors and 11 walks issued by Reno pitchers in an ugly 15-11 win.  For perspective on this game: Sacramento starter Arnold Leon allowed eight runs and was knocked out in the third inning and they still won. Tacoma remains six games back – but now only trails Reno by two, for what that’s worth.
  • Local kid Chasen Bradford nailed down the save as Las Vegas beat Albuquerque, 7-5. The 51s now lead the Pac-South by 9.5 games and appear as if they are going to be wire-to-wire division leaders.
  • Brennan Boesch went 3-for-3 with a homer in Salt Lake’s 7-5 win over El Paso. Pitcher Caleb Clay was called up by the Angels.
  • Cover your eyes, New Orleans Zephyrs fans. The Zephyrs lost to Memphis 12-0 last night – one day after losing 21-3. That’s 33-3 over two games.
  • Oklahoma City got creamed by Iowa 10-2, but outfielder Preston Tucker is hitting.
  • Nashville swept a doubleheader from Round Rock, 13-4 and 4-2. Infielder Jason Rogers hit three homers and had nine RBI total in the doubleheader.
  • Johnny Giavotella homered in the 12th to give Omaha a 4-3 win over Colorado Springs, even though Matt McBride is healthy and swinging it well for the Sky Sox.

Come out and see us for lunch today! The Rainiers embark upon an eight-game road trip to New Orleans and Round Rock, TX starting Tuesday. Tuesday’s blog post could be brief – it’s a long travel day, then straight to the park. Should be a fun trip.

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