Rookie outfielder Desmond Jennings entered his at-bat in the 10th inning Wednesday in a 4-for-38 slump that dropped his average from .354 to .298. He promptly pounded the very first pitch he saw over the wall in left to give the Rays a 5-4 victory over the Rangers.
The Rays managed to take two out of three from Texas to keep their slim postseason hopes alive. It was also the 1,000th victory opposite 1,245 losses in franchise history.
This was a game that Tampa Bay probably shouldn’t have won. The Rangers had 12 hits to the Rays’ seven and three homers to the Rays’ two. The walks were even at three apiece, and Rangers pitchers racked up 11 strikeouts to Tampa Bay’s eight.
The problem was that Texas left 11 men on base. All three of the Rangers’ homers were solo shots. Ian Kinsler had two of them, including a game-tying blast off Kyle Farnsworth in the top of the ninth. Mike Napoli had four hits, but the only one that drove in a run was his solo homer.
The win makes the Rays’ 78-64, leaving them 7 1/2 games back of the Red Sox in the wild card pending Boston’s result tonight. They’ll have a big chance to make up ground when they play the Red Sox this weekend.
The Rangers are three games up on the Angels in the AL West.
Hanley Ramirez was a complete failure in left field this season in Boston and he batted just .249/.291/.426 while appearing in only 105 games. Ben Cherington, the man that signed him to a four-year, $88 million free agent contract, is no longer with the Red Sox. It’s time for some tough love …
Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo, who just inked a two-year extension to return as John Farrell’s bench coach, told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald on Sunday that Hanley has been asked to drop 15-20 pounds over the offseason. There have been similar conversations with Boston’s other free agent failure, Pablo Sandoval.
Ramirez is expected to start at first base for the Red Sox in 2016.
Clayton Kershaw entered Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Padres needing six strikeouts to become the first pitcher in 13 years to whiff 300 batters in a single season.
He did it within the first nine batters of the game, whiffing Yangervis Solarte, Clint Barmes, Austin Hedges, and Travis Jankowski once each and Melvin Upton Jr. on two different occasions.
Here was the milestone matchup against Upton Jr. with two outs in the top of the third …
The last pitchers to reach 300 strikeouts in a season were Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. They did so as teammates on the 2002 Diamondbacks.
Kershaw is lined up to face the Mets in Game 1 of the NLDS.