Betancourt steals home against Tribe

Betancourt steals home against Tribe

KANSAS CITY -- Yuniesky Betancourt notched the 33rd steal of home in Royals history in the second inning of Sunday's 6-4 win over the Indians.

Betancourt was at third base when Mitch Maier was caught off first base by pitcher Josh Tomlin, who stepped off the rubber, faked a throw to third and ran toward the trapped Maier. Betancourt broke for home, interrupting the pitcher's pursuit, and beat the throw from Tomlin to catcher Chris Gimenez. The run broke a 3-3 tie.

Maier reached second safely, so the play went down as a double steal. No, it wasn't a pre-conceived play.

"Not this year, it's not," manager Ned Yost said. "It will be next year. We work on stuff like that in the spring. But this year, it wasn't. Yuni actually ran it to perfection."

Maier, who has green-light clearance to steal, just wanted to reach second base to give Mike Aviles a chance to drive in two runs. Maier stopped between the bases, drawing pursuit from Tomlin, and Betancourt timed his break to the plate perfectly.

"It wasn't planned to work out that way, but I'm glad it worked out," Maier said.

Next year, though, Yost will incorporate that type of play into the Royals' baserunning plans.

Indians manager Manny Acta noted that defending against such a play, while it's not seen that often, is a routine practice exercise for pitchers.

"Five million times in Spring Training," Acta said, "and 250,000 times during the season."

Betancourt's first steal of the season was also the Royals' first steal of home since Alex Gordon did it on Aug. 2, 2009, at Tampa Bay.

The theft should have brought back memories to Jon Nunnally, the Indians' hitting coach. Nunnally, while an outfielder with the Royals in 1995, stole home four times in similar fashion on a double steal.

That stands as the Royals club record, not only for a season, but for a career.