ARLINGTON, Texas — It had a chance to change the game and make history, but Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Manny Margot‘s attempted steal of home in the bottom of the fourth inning of Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night fell short, as he was tagged out just before getting his hand in safely.
“I thought I was really close,” Margot said through an interpreter afterward. “I really didn’t know where they touched me. They didn’t challenge.”
Replays showed Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes barely getting the tag down on Margot’s left hand after pitcher Clayton Kershaw stepped off the rubber and fired home, though the throw was a bit outside. Margot had been taking huge leads throughout the entire sequence after reaching third base with no outs. But he was still there with two down before attempting the dramatic play.
“It was 100 percent my decision,” Margot said. “I thought it was a good idea at the time. I had a pretty good chance of being safe.
“From the first pitch to KK [Kevin Kiermaier], I knew they weren’t paying too much attention to me, so I thought I had a chance. Obviously it didn’t work out that way.”
Kiermaier was at the plate with two outs and two on after Margot walked and stole second, reaching third on an error by second baseman Chris Taylor. Hunter Renfroe followed with a walk, but Joey Wendle popped up and Willy Adames struck out, setting the stage for the attempted steal.
“I was a little surprised,” Kiermaier said. “It was a gutsy move and it didn’t work out that time. Manny is a great baserunner. He’s not afraid to take risks. I didn’t have a problem with it. … It takes a lot of guts to sit here and try that in the World Series. It just didn’t work out.”
Rays manager Kevin Cash was more annoyed by the fact that Margot was still on third base after getting there with no outs. Since it wasn’t a planned play, Renfroe didn’t take off from first base, which could have distracted the left-handed Kershaw. With his back to Margot, he wasn’t able to pick up the steal attempt until the last second.
“That has happened to me before,” Kershaw said. “I wasn’t really anticipating it, but I have talked to first basemen in the past, [Max] Muncy, I have talked to him about it as well like, ‘Hey, I look at him [initially] but when I come set I don’t really see the runner so you got to yell at me if they start going.’ And he was yelling at me, step off step off step off. So instinctually I just did it. It was a big out for us right there.”
The last time a player attempted to steal home in a World Series game was in 1982. The last successful straight steal of home in the World Series was in 1955 by Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“I know Kershaw has the high hand set,” Cash said. “I think Manny felt he could just time him up. … I think we try to do things and make decisions and allow players to be athletic. If Manny felt he had a read on it, for whatever reason, it’s tough for me to say yes or no, just because he’s a talented baserunner. He might be seeing something I’m not or can’t appreciate in the moment right there.”
Cash called the entire inning “frustrating,” and was asked if in a perfect world Renfroe would have taken off from first to help create chaos.
“In a perfect world he’s safe,” the Rays manager said with a smirk.
The Dodgers lead the series 3-2 with Game 6 on Tuesday.