Matt Wieters stole two bases, but he didn't steal home
It has been a delightfully inexplicable season thus far for the Orioles as the team continues to defy numbers, critics and logic by sitting eight games above .500 eight days into August. Baseball, a game that has looked so ugly to O's fans for several years, is beautiful once more.
Fans have debated for months which season might serve as the historical precedent for 2012 (1989? 2005?). It's easier to locate precedent for unusual individual moments like when a lumbering catcher suddenly becomes a base stealing threat.
Only in a season like this could the catcher be third on the team in stolen bases among players currently on the major league roster (i.e. Xavier Avery gets left out). Matt Wieters secured the third spot Saturday against the Rays by becoming the first Baltimore catcher since Johnny Oates to steal two bases in one game.
You've probably heard that Wieters-Oates tidbit from multiple sources since the weekend, but check out the full back story and you'll discover that Oates' effort was every bit as strange as many events from the 2012 season have been.
Oates, then a 26-year-old rookie, swiped two bases on June 10, 1972. The steals came as part of a 5-2 victory against the Texas Rangers. It'd be tough to top the sixth inning of that game when it comes to unusual sequences.
Oates stole home as part of a triple steal with the bases loaded and pitcher Dave McNally at the plate. Brooks Robinson advanced to third base while Davey Johnson, who had been intentionally walked, took second. McNally subsequently struck out, and the Rangers turned two when catcher Dick Billings picked Robinson off third base.
So an intentional walk loaded the bases, a triple steal with the catcher as the lead runner scored a run, and a 1-2-5 double play ended the inning. Go figure.
Don Baylor led the '72 Orioles with 24 stolen bases, followed by Bobby Grich with 13. Oates' five stolen bases were good for seventh place on the team, one ahead of burly first baseman Boog Powell.
The 1972 Orioles finished 80-74 and in third place in the A.L. East.