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.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.