Randy Arozarena’s supply of October magic never seems to end.
Arozarena — the leading candidate for American League Rookie of the Year — made history Thursday by becoming the first player in playoff history to steal home and hit a home run in the same game during Tampa Bay’s 5-0 victory over Boston Red in Game 1 of the ALDS. The swipe marked the first steal of home in a playoff game since 2016, when Chicago Cubs infielder Javy Baez pulled off the feat in the 2016 NLCS and the first straight steal of home in a playoff game since Jackie Robinson’s against Yogi Berra and the New York Yankees in 1955.
“I noticed the pitcher kind of wasn’t keeping attention to me. I was able to take a big enough lead and take that base,” Arozarena said through a translator. “That’s the first time I’ve ever stolen home.”
The 26-year-old outfielder, who is still a rookie despite setting postseason records with 10 homers and 29 hits in 20 games during the 2020 postseason, stole home against Boston reliever Josh Taylor to make the score 5-0 in the seventh inning after drawing a walk.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said that Arozarena had been asking him stealing home for weeks. During the 2020 World Series, Rays outfielder Manuel Margot was thrown out when he attempted a similar steal off of Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, but Arozarena kept insisting.
“He’s asked me all season long, ‘Verde, verde, verder’ — greenlight,” Cash said. “We finally gave it to him.”
Arozarena easily beat the throw home to catcher Christian Vazquez via headfirst slide.
Arozarena also ranks second for the most home runs in a 20-game postseason span, tied with Carlos Beltran and Jim Thome with 11 and trailing just Babe Ruth, who leads with 12. His 11 career postseason homers are five more than any other rookie all-time, with Evan Longoria ranking second with sixth.
When asked about his playoff success, Arozarena said the stakes of the moment creates a desire to meet the moment.
“I just focus a little bit more,”Arozarena said. “Luckily it’s happening in October, when it means it’s closer to the World Series.”