Jacoby Ellsbury vs. Carl Crawford: A Base Stealer's Dream Series

Joe M.Correspondent IIAugust 4, 2009

BOSTON - JULY 05:  Jacoby Ellsbury #46 of the Boston Red Sox steals home on a wild pitch to Jason Varitek in the seventh inning against the Seattle Mariners on July 5, 2009 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox defeated the Mariners 8-4.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Tonight begins a quick two-game set between Jacoby Ellsbury and the Boston Red Sox and his steals rival, Carl Crawford and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Just for fun, don't forget that the Rays also includes x-factor B.J. Upton and Jason Bartlett who have 33 and 20 steals respectively.

All season long I've been doing a series on base stealing in baseball and hopefully its relevance in bringing back the threat. You can check out my latest piece here which includes all the links to my earlier writings by month.

Apparently my latest article possibly provided some inspiration for a recent Red Sox Notebook portion of the Boston Herald. You be the judge.  

Going in to the series, I was thinking that if Ellsbury and Crawford stole two bases each the entire series that would be a good goal until they next meet Sept. 1-3 in Tampa. However, with two steals already tonight through the first three innings plus, Crawford has already surpassed my goal, meanwhile giving him a league-high 51 on the season. The multi-steal game is Crawford's first since July 8.

With the score currently 1-0 Boston in the fifth, with runs coming at a minimum, both runners may be asked (or required) to take chances to create runs any opportunity they get—at least that is what I am hoping.

Sunday when Ellsbury and the Sox jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead over the Orioles, I knew it was a wasted day in terms of base stealing since its necessity goes away with such a large lead. With this close game, it may become imperative to improvise.

Let's hope Ellsbury can keep or exceed the blistering pace.

With that goal surpassed, how many more will Crawford steal? I'd like to see him get three more, meaning he'd get at least one more tonight and two in the series finale, unless he wants to awe us with a triple threat tomorrow on national TV on ESPN.

That would give him an amazing six in just two games, more than making up for his long stretches of no steals which I have challenged him about all season long in addition to pleading for more multi-steal games like tonight.

With sloth-armed Jason Varitek behind the plate, there should be ample opportunity for all Rays mentioned to run when given the chance.

With August Comes a Promising Month

We are only a few games into the month and already all four of the league's top base stealers—Crawford, Ellsbury, Michael Bourn, and B.J. Upton—have stolen at least one base. Crawford leads the resurgence with three and counting after swiping only eight the previous month. The rest have all stolen one apiece.

After tonight's game, seven head-to-head matchups remain against the two budding division rivals, meaning we can hope to expect more steals in the future. Four of which will be home in Tampa where Crawford stole six on May 3.

It looks like competition is bringing out the best in both Crawford and Ellsbury and we can only hope this trend continues making for both an exciting month ahead, in addition to what already promises to be an exciting series for base-stealing fans. I'd like to thank both competitors from staying injury-free and continuing to provide us with season-long intrigue.