Run scored before runner tagged on steal try

The play isn't exactly rare, but it occurs often in other levels of baseball than in the Major Leagues:

Runners are on first and third. As the pitcher begins his motion, the runner on first breaks toward second, while the runner on third slowly stretches his lead.

As the pitcher throws to first, or the catcher receives the pitch and throws toward second, the runner from third races for home.

Typically, the fielder catches the throw and fires the ball to the plate. Sometimes, the runner scores. Sometimes, he is tagged out.

But rarely does the runner from third score, then the runner from first is tagged out, as happened in the Cubs' loss at Atlanta last Thursday.


Alfonso Rivas walked to open the second inning and advanced to second on another walk. After a strikeout, he reached third when Nico Hoerner hit into a forceout.

With a 1-1 count on Rafael Ortega, Hoerner took off from first.

Pitcher Kyle Wright threw to first baseman Matt Olson, who threw to shortstop Dansby Swanson. Hoerner put on the brakes, creating a rundown during which Swanson never appeared to look toward home.

Rivas scored well before Swanson threw to Wright, who applied the tag on Hoerner.



Using's Pivotal Play Finder, I created a list of every time a Cub has been caught stealing since 1903, the first season for which such data is available at the site.

I searched through the list for all plays on which an out was made and a run scored.

I found just 10 times before last week's game at Atlanta: once in 1917, 3 times in 1923-24, once each in 1933 and 1964, 3 times in 1985-89 and once in 2012.

Intriguingly, each of the last 3 times has been at Atlanta!

Only 2 of the 11 total times have the Cubs pulled off the play at home -- and not in nearly a century, since July 2, 1924.


Here, in chronological order, is each of the 10 times before last week that the Cubs scored a run before a runner trying to steal was tagged out between first and second:

Sept. 22, 1917

The Cubs trailed the Phillies, 2-0, at home in the fifth inning.

Fred Merkle and Morrie Schick singled. A forceout at third, then another at second, put Schick on third and Pickles Dilhoefer on first.

With pitcher Claude Hendrix at bat, Shick scored before Dilhoefer was tagged.

The Cubs lost the game, 4-1.

Never heard of Morrie Schick? He was a center fielder, who played 14 big league games, all for the Cubs, in 1917. His slash line was .147/.216/.147 and his OPS+ was . . . 9.

July 19, 1923

The Cubs led, 2-0, at Philadelphia in the fourth inning.

Allen Elliott, leading off, was safe on an error. After a bunt and a popup, Sparky Adams singled Elliott to third.

With George Grantham at bat, Elliott scored before Adams was tagged.

The Cubs won, 7-1.

April 22, 1924

In the top of the first at Cincinnati, the first 2 Cubs were retired. Then Grantham singled and went to third on a hit by Ray Grimes.

With Bernie Friberg at bat, Grantham scored before Grimes was tagged.

The Cubs lost, 3-2.

July 2, 1924

The Cubs already led the visiting Reds, 4-0, in the first inning when Gabby Hartnett walked, putting runners on first and second.

A single by Vic Keen drove home another run and put Hartnett on third.

With Jigger Statz at bat, Hartnett scored before Keen was tagged.

The Cubs won, 7-5.

June 17, 1933

With the scored tied at 1, Harvey Hendrick led off the fourth inning at Pittsburgh and singled. Frank Demaree's single sent him to third. Then Hartnett struck out.

With Billy Jurges at bat, Hendrick scored before Demaree was tagged.

The Cubs lost, 4-3.

Sept. 19, 1964

The Cubs led, 4-2, in the sixth inning at Milwaukee when Ron Campbell smacked a 1-out double. Dick Bertell was walked intentionally.

With pitcher Larry Jackson at bat, the catcher threw to first, igniting a rundown that lasted long enough for Campbell to score all the way from second before Bertell was tagged.

The Cubs won, 5-3.

Sept. 11, 1985

The Cubs trailed, 1-0, after 5 innings at Pittsburgh.

Bob Dernier opened the sixth with a walk and went to third on a 1-out single by Ryne Sandberg. Keith Moreland then fouled out.

With Ron Cey at bat, Dernier scored before Sandberg was tagged.

The Cubs won, 3-1.

Aug. 17, 1988

Sandberg singled with 1 out in the first inning at Cincinnati. Mark Grace followed with a single, and Andre Dawson's fly ball put runners on the corners.

With Rafael Palmeiro at bat, Sandberg scored before Grace was tagged.

The Cubs won, 5-0.

Sept. 3, 1989

Jerome Walton opened the game at Atlanta with a single and moved to third on a pair of groundouts. Then Grace walked.

With Dawson at bat, Walton scored before Grace was tagged.

The Cubs lost, 8-5.

July 4, 2012

With 1 out in the first inning at Atlanta, Starlin Castro walked. Anthony Rizzo singled him to third.

With Alfonso Soriano at bat, Castro scored before Rizzo was tagged.

The Cubs won, 5-1.

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