Two Sundays ago, Zack Greinke stole his second base of the year. This event prompted a reporter to ask Grienke after the game whether he was stealing second on his own. “They didn’t say not to go,” the pitcher responded.
Then on the following Thursday night, Tony Cingrani, whom I tried to pick up for my fantasy team a few weeks ago, swiped the first base by a Reds pitcher since Bronson Arroyo in 2008.
The pitcher stolen base isn’t new. Bob Gibson stole five bases in 1969 as revenge for lowering the mound. There have been 869 pitcher steals since 1918. Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, and Gibson stole bases 741, 742, and 743. Orel Hershiser swiped the occasional base. Adam Eaton has a fifth of the pitcher steals in Padres history. Greinke didn’t invent the pitcher steal. (But he’s also the most recent Brewer pitcher to do it, back in 2011.)
Greinke’s action prompted the obvious question for me: Who was the last pitcher to steal a base for the Giants franchise?
On August 29, 2003, at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, the Giants were down to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-3, as the fourth inning began. Miguel Batista was on the mound for the home team, facing the 7-8-9 batters in the Giants’ order. Andres Galarraga grounded out to short and Jose Cruz flied out to center. Up came Kirk Rueter, who hit Batista’s first pitch on a line between short and third. Second baseman Eric Young, the Giants’ leadoff hitter that day, was the next batter. Young was a rental that year, acquired by general manager Brian Sabean in a trade from the Brewers. Once upon a time, he had been a good leadoff hitter, but those days were behind him. His .293 OBP as a Giant might make one wonder why he was leading off.
Once Young had “worked” the count to 0-2, Rueter must have been wondering the same thing. He took off for second on the next pitch, sliding in safely. It would be the only stolen base of Woody’s career.
Young would strike out. The Diamondbacks would win, 5-4. Rueter would take the loss.