To catch a runner stealing, a lot has to go right for the defense.
The pitcher must be quick enough to the plate and give the catcher a decent pitch. The catcher must move smoothly from receiving to throwing and then get the ball to its destination quickly and accurately. And finally, the infielder has to grab the throw and apply the tag. There's a reason that Major Leaguers have been successful on more than 70 percent of their steal attempts this season.
But on Thursday, Statcast™ provided a couple of good examples of how to combat the running game. Here's a closer look at those plays, plus a big home run and some stellar outfield defense.
Maldonado, times two
As the Brewers played spoiler, outlasting the National League Wild Card-leading Pirates for a 6-4 victory in 13 innings, catcher Martin Maldonado went 2-for-2 shutting down steal attempts (both by Josh Harrison) and added a pickoff for good measure. In the bottom of the sixth at PNC Park, with the Brewers holding a 3-1 lead, Wily Peralta struck out Andrew McCutchen on a full-count slider in the dirt. Maldonado deftly picked it with his backhand, made the exchange in 0.63 seconds and fired an 84.5-mph one-hop throw to second baseman Scooter Gennett, who slapped the tag on Harrison's arm. Harrison, despite reaching 19.0 mph, was out for an inning-ending double play.
An inning earlier, Pittsburgh's Francisco Cervelli was on second with two outs. On a 1-0 pitch from Peralta, a 94.6 mph fastball outside, Maldonado sprang out of his crouch as he received the pitch, made the exchange to his throwing hand in 0.59 seconds and whipped a snap throw to second at 86.0 mph. Cervelli, out to a 22-foot secondary lead, was caught too far off the bag and couldn't get back in time.
Sucre catches Andrus
Speaking of spoilers, the Mariners shut out the Rangers, 5-0, at Safeco Field. With Seattle protecting a 2-0 advantage in the fifth, Texas' Elvis Andrus took off from first with no outs, on Felix Hernandez's 1-2 pitch to Joey Gallo. When Gallo whiffed on the 93.7-mph fastball, Sucre made the exchange in 0.55 seconds and gunned a 83.2 mph throw to second. Andrus, with a 20-foot secondary lead and a maximum speed of 20.0 mph, initially was called safe. But replay review revealed the truth: Sucre had gotten his man for a double play.
Khris clobbers one
Milwaukee already had jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead when Khris Davis stepped to the plate against A.J. Burnett with two outs and a runner on in the first inning. On a 1-0 count, Burnett fed Davis a 91.8-mph fastball, and Davis jumped all over it, connecting at 109.1 mph, his fourth-best exit velocity this season. The ball rocketed over the center-field wall at PNC Park, clearing the hedges behind it and nearly striking the batter's eye. Statcast™ projected Davis' 19th homer of the season at 436 feet, his third-best distance.
Chisenhall hauls it in
The Indians' Lonnie Chisenhall enjoyed a big game defensively in a 7-5 victory over the Tigers. For one thing, he became the first player since 2007 to record three outfield assists in a game. But the converted third baseman, who started his first game in right field on July 31, also showed off his range. With one out and nobody on in the fourth inning, Detroit's Victor Martinez stroked a line drive to deep right-center. Chisenhall took his first step in 0.34 seconds and reached 17.3 mph as he covered 66.6 feet racing back into the gap, reaching up to make a backhanded catch just shy of the warning track. Statcast™ pegged Chisenhall's route efficiency at a crisp 95.5 percent.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.