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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Arozarena’s historic night steals show vs. Red Sox

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Arozarena plays hero in Game 1 with HR and steal of home (1:23)

Randy Arozarena follows up his solo home run by stealing home plate in the Rays’ 5-0 Game 1 victory vs. the Red Sox. (1:23)

12:48 AM ET

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    Joon LeeESPN

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      Previously a Staff Writer at Bleacher Report


      Cornell University graduate

Randy Arozarena‘s supply of October magic never seems to end. Arozarena — the leading candidate for American League Rookie of the Year — made history Thursday by becoming the first player in playoff history to steal home and hit a home run in the same game during Tampa Bay’s 5-0 victory over Boston Red in Game 1 of the ALDS in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The swipe marked the first steal of home in a playoff game since 2016, when Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez pulled off the feat in the 2016 NLCS and the first straight steal of home in a playoff game since Jackie Robinson’s against Yogi Berra and the New York Yankees in 1955.

“I noticed the pitcher kind of wasn’t keeping attention to me. I was able to take a big enough lead and take that base,” Arozarena said through an interpreter. “That’s the first time I’ve ever stolen home.”

The 26-year-old outfielder, who is still a rookie despite setting postseason records with 10 homers and 29 hits in 20 games during the 2020 playoffs, stole home against Boston reliever Josh Taylor to make the score 5-0 in the seventh inning after drawing a walk.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said that Arozarena had been asking him about stealing home for weeks. During the 2020 World Series, Rays outfielder Manuel Margot was thrown out when he attempted a similar steal off of Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, but Arozarena kept insisting.

“He’s asked me all season long, ‘Verde, verde, verde’ — green light,” Cash said. “We finally gave it to him.”

Arozarena easily beat the throw home to catcher Christian Vazquez via headfirst slide.

Arozarena also ranks second for the most home runs in a 20-game postseason span, tied with Carlos Beltran and Jim Thome with 11 and trailing just Babe Ruth, who leads with 12. His 11 career postseason homers are five more than any other rookie in MLB history, with Evan Longoria ranking second with six.

When asked about his playoff success, Arozarena said the stakes of the moment create a desire to meet the moment.

“I just focus a little bit more,”Arozarena said. “Luckily it’s happening in October, when it means it’s closer to the World Series.”

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