At Camden Yards this evening, it’s night two of a game within a game. The Orioles are playing the first-place Red Sox and once again, the league’s best basestealer may challenge the league’s best catcher throwing out runners.
Last night, Jacoby Ellsbury tried twice and got thrown out once by Matt Wieters. When Wieters gunned down Ellsbury in the seventh inning with an amazing throw, that snapped Ellsbury’s streak of stealing 18 consecutive bases. Ellsbury is 30-for-33 on the year and 1-for-2 against Wieters.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” Wieters said today. “He’s one of the best in the league and you are going to have to make a good throw. You can’t get too far ahead of yourself. If you try to rush with as fast as he is, you are probably not going to make a good throw.”
Buck Showalter remarked again today at how fast Wieters got the ball to second base to get Ellsbury last night. Wieters’ time on that seventh-inning throw of 1.78 seconds from the time the ball hit his mitt to the time the ball reached J.J. Hardy’s glove was exceptionally fast.
“Guys talk about getting under 2.0 (seconds to throw to second base),” Showalter said. “Can’t tell you how far 1.78 is away from 2.0. It’s an eternity.
“That is really hard and to be accurate - you see certain catchers, a guy like him gets on first base and all they put down is one (calling for a fastball). The first pitch he called there is a breaking ball. Can’t tell you how few catchers would do that. A couple that are in the Hall of Fame. That’s about as good a throw as you’ll ever see.”
Wieters sounded less impressed with his throw.
“That came out pretty well. Tommy (Hunter) gave me a good time to the plate,” Wieters said. “You are trying for something where J.J. won’t have to move too much to put the tag on.”
Ellsbury has stolen 17 bases over his last 14 games and has one or more in six straight games. The last Red Sox player with steals in six or more consecutive games was Tris Speaker with eight in a row from May 19-30, 1913.
Chris Tillman is pitching tonight for the Orioles and that should be good news for Wieters. Tillman has a quick move in delivering the ball to the plate. Six runners have tried to steal a base with Tillman on the mound this year and five have been thrown out.
“He’s great,” Wieters said. “We’ve had success with him on the mound throwing out some pretty fast baserunners. But our staff gives me a good shot no matter who the baserunner is.”
Wieters continues to lead the American League in caught-stealing percentage and is now at 52.0 percent, getting 13 of 25 would-be basestealers.