SAN DIEGO -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus had the Rangers' only hit in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position Tuesday night. He also had the most stunning play of the night, the Rangers' first straight steal of home in 15 years.
Both plays came in a four-run seventh inning that carried the Rangers to an 8-6 victory over the Padres and moved them to within three games of the Astros in the American League West.
"Steal of home … what an instinctual play by Elvis," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "But more important was the big base hit to right field and our guys running hard all the way. They're not always pretty but it's a win nonetheless."
The steal was pretty as Andrus caught Padres right-handed reliever Kevin Quackenbush by surprise, breaking for home while the pitcher was still in the stretch with his head down.
Andrus time to home was 3.19 seconds, according to Statcast™. He achieved that with a lead distance of 16.99 feet and a secondary lead distance of 15.687 feet with a top acceleration of 5.814 meters per square second. Quackenbush was caught off-guard and his throw home was released in 0.98 seconds, coming in at 78.691 mph.
"Believe me, I've tried to do that before but I didn't have the right situation," Andrus said. "Up three runs, two strikes, all those factors were big for me to attempt it. I tried not to think about it too much. If you think about it too much, you get in trouble."
The score was 4-4 when the Rangers mounted to their two-out rally in the seventh. Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre started it with a pair of two-out singles and then a wild pitch by reliever Shawn Kelley to Rougned Odor allowed the runners to move to second and third.
The Padres, with a 1-0 count on Odor, decided to walk him intentionally to set up a righty vs. righty matchup between Andrus and Kelley. The count went to 1-2 and then Andrus lined a single to right field. Fielder scored easily and third-base coach Tony Beasley sent Beltre home as well.
Right fielder Matt Kemp made a strong throw to the plate and Beltre appeared to be out. But Beltre slid hard into catcher Derek Norris and the ball was knocked loose. As Norris lay there in pain, the ball rolled to the backstop and Odor scored as well.
"My shin hit his forearm," Beltre said. "I hope he is OK. I don't like to get anybody hurt. I wanted to see if he was OK but it looked a little more serious. I hope he is all right."
Austin Hedges replaced Norris and Quackenbush replaced Kelley, who left after appearing to injure himself on a warm-up pitch. Quackenbush got ahead of Will Venable 1-2 in the count but didn't realize that Andrus was watching him closely.
Andrus was especially watching how Quackenbush would go into his stretch for several seconds with his head down before delivering the pitch.
"I saw the first pitch, his face was down," Andrus said. "Then I counted off to see how long he was down. Then I faked going to the plate to see if he was aware of me."
Quackenbush wasn't paying attention. So on the fourth pitch, Andrus broke for the plate while Quackenbush was still in his stretch. By the time Quackenbush finally woke up to what was happening, Andrus scored easily.
"It was all him," Banister said. "It was a gutsy play by him…exciting baseball. That's playing baseball."
Andrus has now stolen home four times in his career, the most in Rangers history, Andrus' three previous steals of home came as part of a double steal. The last straight steal of home by a Ranger was Scarborough Green on May 26, 2000.