A pitcher's weapons in the battle are a good pickoff move, a varied rhythm in his motion and a slide-step deliver)', which makes it hard for runners to take a big lead. According to our survey, the toughest pitchers to steal on are Yankees ace Andy Pettitte, who led all pitchers with 11 pickoffs last year; the Mets' Armando Reynoso, a master at holding runners close; and the Cubs' Terry Mulholiand, whose delivery is so quick and deceptive that over the last five seasons only 25 runners have tried to steal against him. "I incorporated the slide step into my delivery early in my career," says Mulholiand. "There's always a chance for a pickoff with it, and if you're quick to the plate, a guy has to watch his lead from first."
To understand the pitcher's importance in controlling the running game, check out the Dodgers, who made a concerted effort during spring training to teach their starters—especially Hideo Nomo, who allowed 52 steals last year—how to hold runners close. After throwing out only 26 of 157 runners (17%) last season, Los Angeles catcher Mike Piazza had thrown out 11 of 33 (33%) this year, through Sunday. Says Piazza, "Our pitchers didn't even give me a chance last season. It was ridiculous. But now they're giving me a shot. That makes a huge difference."
In the history of baseball no team has ever had a bigger sixth inning. Montreal's 13-run outburst against San Francisco on May 7 equaled the record for most runs in that frame and was only four runs shy of the biggest inning ever: the 17-run seventh enjoyed by the Red Sox against the Tigers in 1953.
The Expos had already enjoyed a five-run fifth to take a 6-3 lead. Then the hit parade really began. The top of the sixth included eight singles, three doubles, two home runs, no walks, no errors, one balk, one hit batsman and three shaken Giants pitchers. "Those guys hit every pitch, good or bad," said Giants reliever Julian Tavarez, who allowed four runs while getting two of the three outs in the inning. "It was like a bad dream. I never saw anything like that in baseball, even in Little League."
The Expos set team single-inning records for most runs (13), most hits (13), most consecutive hits (eight) and most batters (17). Five Expos had two hits in the inning, including second baseman Mike Lansing, who became the 31st player to hit two home runs in one inning. "When I came back to the dugout after the second one, I said, 'Damn, did I really just do that?' " Lansing said. "None of us wanted to be the one to make the third out, but, really, all you start thinking is, Jeez, when is this going to quit?"