Lots of life left in Roberts’ legs

Friday night’s Yankees-Rays game won by Tampa Bay, 10-5, in 14 innings was very much defined by power on the Yankees’ side. Brian McCann hit a two-run home run in the second, and Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano had two-out solo shots in the eighth that tied the score.

Yet what may linger in the minds of those in the Yankee Stadium crowd who kept their seats throughout the 5-hour, 49-minute marathon into Saturday morning was the superb base running of Brian Roberts that helped the Yankees tie the score and gave them a few chances to win the game.

After the Rays regained the lead in the ninth on Evan Longoria’s two-out, RBI single off David Robertson, the Yankees knotted the game again thanks to the legs of Roberts. The second baseman led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on an infield out.

Then bold as brass with a left-handed hitter at the plate and veteran catcher Jose Molina still possessing a strong arm, Roberts swiped third. Granted, Longoria dropped the ball or Roberts might have been out, but that didn’t happen. Roberts had to hold up as pinch hitter Kelly Johnson grounded out to the left side.

Jacoby Ellsbury singled to make the score 5-5 and send the game into extras, which was the last thing the Rays wanted after having played a doubleheader in Boston Thursday night and landing in New York at 3:30 a.m. Friday.

Roberts was on the run again in the 11th when the Yankees threatened again. He singled with two out and made a gutty sprint to third on Yangervis Solarte’s single to center. Ichiro Suzuki came off the bench as a pinch hitter with a chance to win the game but grounded out to second.

In the 13th, Roberts’ running ability was again on display as he avoided being the second end of a double play at second base where a tag was required and outran his pursuer to the bag to keep a rally alive that was unfortunately eventually unproductive.

Roberts was once a speed burner on the bases. He led the American League in stolen bases with 50 in 2007 for the Orioles and has 285 steals in a 14-season career that has been short-circuited the past four years due to a series of injuries. The way he motored around the bases Friday night is an indication there is plenty of life left in those 36-year-old legs.

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