Melvin Upton Jr. decided to add an insurance run for the San Diego Padres in the fourth inning of their win against the Colorado Rockies on Friday evening. With the Padres leading 3-0, Upton Jr. made it 4-0 with a rare steal of home plate. Watch the full steal below.
MELVIN UPTON JR STOLE HOME! MELVIN UPTON JR STOLE HOME!
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) June 4, 2016
As you see, Upton Jr. makes a deft move to avoid the tag of Rockies’ catcher Nick Hundley, who formerly caught for the Padres. Hundley made a strong attempt to reach out quickly and nab Upton Jr.; however, Melvin was able to twist his body as necessary to avoid the tag and touch home plate to complete the steal and add the fourth run of the game for the Padres.
At the time of Melvin’s steal, pitcher Drew Pomeranz was at the plate. Initially, Pomeranz didn’t know that Upton Jr. was actually going to make the attempt to steal home plate, as quoted by Jeff Sanders in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“I saw him out of the corner of my eye and I thought it was just a hard break to fake the pitcher out. Then he started screaming at me. I just took a step back and let him do his thing. He says that’s what you do.”
“I told him I’m glad he screamed because I probably would have swung and that wouldn’t have been very good.”
Kemp, Upton Jr. crush Rocks https://t.co/l5VJKiiU4U
— Gaslamp Ball (@gaslampball) June 4, 2016
Upton Jr. had a great jump on left-handed Rockies’ pitcher Chris Rusin. His lead was enough to give him the advantage in making the steal of home. Melvin wasn’t quite sure just how he made the steal successful though, as quoted in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“I extended my lead and when he didn’t give me a peek I took off. … (Hundley) gave me a reach and I don’t know how I did it but I got around him.”
Padres’ manager Andy Green sounded happy and relieved at the same time, regarding the results of Upton Jr.’s improbable steal, as quoted by Fox Sports.
“It’s one of those plays that’s incredibly smart when it works out. It was really well executed on his part and I’m happy Drew didn’t swing.”
The steal of home was something new in the way it was achieved for teammate Matt Kemp. Kemp, who hit a long home run in the first inning. Kemp was quoted by the San Diego Union-Tribune in his amazement Upton Jr.’s skilled slide and tag of the plate.
“I ain’t ever seen that before. The way he stole and slid – he did a little Matrix joint where he couldn’t tag him.”
“It’s pretty cool. I couldn’t do that. That was pretty awesome.”
The San Diego Padres sorely needed the performances of both Upton Jr. and Pomeranz. The previous game saw the Padres give up a 10-run lead, and they are fighting to get out of the cellar of the National League Western Division.
Melvin Upton Jr. now has 24 runs according to Baseball-Reference, surpassing his total of 23 from last season, when he was limited to just 205 at-bats in 87 games for the Padres. According to ESPN, Upton Jr. was activated from the disabled list in early June, 2015, prior to which he was sidelined with an injured foot.
Next up for Melvin and the San Diego Padres will be two weekend tilts against the Rockies before facing Upton Jr.’s former team, the Atlanta Braves on Monday night at PETCO park. The Padres are 1.5 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks for fourth place in the Western Division.
[Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images]