We just discussed Chris Archer, the pitcher. And now to Chris Archer, the pinch-runner. This past Saturday night, Archer pinch-ran for Jose Lobaton in the top of the 9th, went 1st to 3rd on Jeff Keppinger‘s RBI single, and then scored the tying run on Brooks Conrad‘s RBI single as the Rays rallied to tie the game against Jonathan Papelbon and the Phillies. But that was just the beginning. On Sunday, in Game 1 of the doubleheader versus the Phillies, Archer pinch-ran for Hideki Matsui with the Rays ahead 3-1, and completely shockingly, Archer broke for second base, and he actually slid in ahead of the tag, but he over-slid the bag and was tagged out. It was the first stolen base attempt of Archer’s professional baseball career, and considering how well Archer runs, it might not be the last. Archer is an athletic 6’3″, 200 and he’s legitimately fast. The Rays love versatility, and as long as Archer is on the roster*, look for Joe Maddon to call on Archer to pinch-run late in close games at least every once in a while. He’ll have to work on his sliding technique, though.
How historic was Archer’s caught stealing? It was the only the third caught stealing of the year by a full-time pitcher (as opposed to a position player who pitched once such as Chris Davis), and Archer was the only American League pitcher to get caught stealing in Interleague play. Anthony Bass and Jake Westbrook (both NL pitchers) have both been successful on stolen base attempts this season.
The last time an AL pitcher attempted a stolen base before Archer was back in 2003, when another Rays pitcher, Jason Strandrige, was caught stealing on June 21st. Archer’s caught stealing was 9 years and 1 day later.
How about the last AL pitcher to pinch-run and successfully steal a base? Gene Nelson of the Oakland Athletics on July 3rd, 1988. Where was Nelson born? Tampa, Florida. How about that?
*Archer may not be on the Rays roster so long this go-around considering Jeremy Hellickson is eligible to come off the DL on June 30th.