The New Hampshire Fisher Cats won their Saturday night game in extra innings thanks to a rare feat pulled off by Santiago Espinal.
There are a lot of routine things about baseball, which is going to happen when teams go through a 162 game season.
If you head down to the ballpark on any given night, you’re bound to see some strikeouts, at least a few hard hit balls, and probably a few impressive defensive plays as well. There are at least 51 outs required to complete a full game, so you’ll see a lot of the same things on any given night, even if they come in different forms.
However, what we saw from Santiago Espinal of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Saturday night was something I may never witness again in my lifetime.
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With the game tied in the 10th inning of the Double-A contest against the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the Blue Jays prospect was on third base and hoping to provide the winning run. He had been doing some dancing out at third base, and he saw a rare opportunity, so he decided to take it.
The Flying Squirrels had a left-hander on the mound in Sam Moll, and as a result, he had his back to Espinal at third base. Think of this like a righty pitching with a runner at first, and picture how much more they have to move their body to get a clear look at the runner than a southpaw would, who is facing them. You have to be mindful of a runner at first base as a pitcher, but that’s not always the case when the runner is on third. However, that was Moll’s mistake.
Espinal took off well before Moll had even started his delivery, and from the video below (courtesy of MiLB.com), you’ll see that by the time Moll realized what was happening it was far too late.
Stealing home is a rare enough feat in itself, but the fact that Espinal’s swipe was the walk-off winner was something I don’t recall ever seeing or hearing about before. However, according to baseballmanac.com, it has happened once in my lifetime, when Marquis Grissom pulled it off for the Cleveland Indians to defeat the Baltimore Orioles on October 11, 1997. Before that, it was Glenn Brummer on August 8, 1982, to bring a win for the Cardinals over the Giants.
A walk-off steal of home has happened 35 times in MLB history, however, 28 of them happened before 1962, so it’s not something you see many players attempt these days. The list includes a few names you should recognize like Rod Carew, George Brett, and oddly enough, Eddie Murray.
Espinal’s walk-off steal didn’t happen at the big league level so he won’t be joining this list, however, that doesn’t take away from the accomplishment at all. The man stole home to win a professional baseball game, and you just don’t see that every day.