Last night while leading 4-3 with runners at first and third, Miguel Cabrera got picked off first base. Russell Branyan, the Seattle first basemen, proceeded to chase Cabrera towards second, eventually making the throw. Ryan Raburn, the runner on third, then broke for home. The shortstop, fielded the throw and relayed home in an attempt to catch the runner from third. Raburn was safe at home, and Cabrera proceeded to second with a successful double steal.
My question for any of the baseball fans on this board, is there any chance that this was a set play? With how horrendous the Tigers baserunning has been, specifically Cabreras, its hard for me to imagine that it was. But First & Third plays are not unheard of:
Our favorite athletic director, Skip Bertman, used the "LSU steal" to great effect in the College World Series. With a left-hander on the mound and runners on first and third, the runner on first is directed to steal on the pitchers first movement. The runner on third is directed to steal home immediately following the runner on first's movement. The natural inclination for the pitcher is to make the throw to first, or if flustered, balk by not following through on his motion to either the plate or first.
A first and third steal can have a double steal option, with the runner on third "reading" the catcher's throw and the middle infield's positioning. On this type of play, the batter can square to bunt, putting extra pressure on the defense. The third basemen must respect the bunt, which allows the runner on third to follow him down the line increasing his secondary lead. It also, depending on the defensive responsiblities, forces the second basemen to cover first, leaving the shortsop to cover the bag at second. A right-handed shortstop will have a more difficult pivot to throw home.
These types of plays are not so prevalent at the major league level, where the arms and moreso the releases are incredible. But after an 0-16 RISP on Sunday, any chance this was an attempt to get an insurance run? Raburn's not that great of a baserunner, and his reaction to the play was perfect. Your thoughts?