Fowler swipes five bags
Center fielder ties rookie record for steals in game
DENVER -- Put an eager speedster like Rockies rookie Dexter Fowler on the same field with a lanky and notoriously slow pitcher like the Padres' Chris Young, and you'd better have a record book handy.
Fowler tied a modern (since 1900) rookie record by stealing five bases -- all during Young's three-plus innings -- in the Rockies' 12-7 victory over the Padres at Coors Field on Monday night.
Fowler opened the bottom of the first with a single, and the track meet began. Fowler stole second and third, the latter part of a double steal with Ryan Spilborghs. Fowler stole second and third after his walk in the third. He opened the fourth with a single and stole second before Young left. Fowler scored all three times.
"It's a very special night to steal five bases," manager Clint Hurdle said.
The last rookie to swipe five was Damian Jackson, who did it for the Padres against the Rockies on June 28, 1999. Fowler fell one steal shy of Eric Young's club and modern-day record, set against the Dodgers on June 30, 1996. Willy Taveras also stole five last season against the White Sox on June 14.
In addition to Young, the modern-day record of six steals has been accomplished three times, twice by Eddie Collins of the Philadelphia A's in 1912 and the Braves' Otis Nixon in 1991. The all-time record of seven was set by the Cubs' George Gore in 1881 and repeated by William Hamilton of the Phillies in 1894.
The Rockies stole eight bags overall on Monday, all with the Padres' starter in the game -- second to the 10 the club managed the day Eric Young set his record.
Fowler, who is receiving and passing his crash course in the nuances of basestealing, said he was unaware that he was headed for historical ground.
"I wasn't even aware of that until I heard a guy in the stands yell, 'Hey, you've almost got the record -- one more,'" Fowler said.
Going into the game, Fowler's four steals were two behind the National League leader, the Pirates' Nyjer Morgan. Fowler has been caught once -- by the Dodgers' Russell Martin during Sunday afternoon's 10-4 Rockies win. Hurdle said going against Martin on a 3-2 pitch, when a fastball was in order, was not a good decision, but something Fowler will learn to avoid.
Runners don't learn all they need in the Minors, Hurdle said, because teams don't scout or monitor with the same precision. Fowler also noted that Eric Young Jr., who has speed similar to that of his club-record-holding father, was in front of him in the batting order in the Minors, so many of his steals came on double-steal plays.
In Chris Young, Fowler had someone who would give him opportunities to succeed, provided he reached base. Of course, that has been a problem for all the Rockies: Young came in with a 5-1 record and a 3.28 ERA in 11 career starts against Colorado.
But in 2007, Young's last full season (he missed much of last year with injuries), basestealers went 44-for-44 with him on the mound, according to STATS Inc. At 6-foot-10, Young has a lanky motion. As the numbers attest, he prefers to focus on the batter.
"It's something that I was aware of [his speed]," Young said. "It's obviously a goal to keep him off base and keep fast guys off base. But it doesn't change the way I'm pitching."
The Rockies and Fowler timed Young's delivery.
"He's paying attention," Hurdle said. "He's watching tape. The skill set is unique. I think he's got every opportunity to do real well."
Only a clogged basepath prevented Fowler from attempting to match the club mark after a walk from Padres reliever Edwin Moreno in the fifth. Pitcher Glendon Rusch had singled in front of Fowler. A double steal was not in the plan, even though Fowler prepared for the off chance that the veteran Rusch would pull a surprise.
"I was like, 'Rushie, if you take off, that's on you. ... But I'm right behind you,'" Fowler said.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Nick Zaccardi contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.