Stealing home isn't as rare now

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Michael Bourn watched Jacoby Ellsbury make the mad dash. He saw Jayson Werth take off, too. So when the Houston speedster got his chance, there was only one thing to do.

Go!

All of a sudden, stealing home has become all the rage.

"This is the first time I ever did it that I can remember," Bourn said after Thursday's 5-3 win at Colorado.

Bourn was greeted by high-fives from his Astros teammates when he slid in safely on the back half of a double steal.

Werth drew a curtain call at Philadelphia for his swipe Tuesday night against the Dodgers.

He was sneaky, bolting home when All-Star catcher Russell Martin lobbed the ball back to the pitcher.

Ellsbury simply was too fast, beating Andy Pettitte's pitch to the plate last month at Fenway Park.

"They stole it in a different sense than I did. Everybody stole it different," Bourn said. "However way you steal it is how you steal it."

There had not been a single straight steal of home by mid-May last year, the Elias Sports Bureau said.

Tracking straight steals and the success rate isn't an exact science. Players caught in rundowns or trying to advance on balls that skitter away can show up in the stats. In any case, the single-season high this decade for "straight" steals of home -- not part of double steals -- is five, in 2003 and 2001, Elias said.

For Ellsbury, the elements were just right: A lefty pitcher working from the full windup, a third baseman playing off the bag with a lefty hitter at the plate, and plenty of time to take a walking lead.

Overall, 11 players stole home last season, of which four were not part of a multisteal play. Ellsbury started this year's run on national television against the Yankees, and his Boston buddies laughed after his caper.

Rod Carew, who stole home 17 in his illustrious career, marveled at Ellsbury's dash home with two outs, the bases loaded and J.D. Drew at the plate.

"It stirred up a lot of memories for me," Carew posted on his Web site after the play. "It was fun, but dangerous as Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew was often the batter with me on third. The Twins' PR guys had fun with that, writing a poem, 'Here lies Rod Carew, lined to left by Killebrew.' "


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