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.
Over the winter there was serious talk about the Pirates trading Andrew McCutchen to the Washington Nationals. His move to left field to allow Starling Marte to take over center further served to make McCutchen a less important part of the Pirates long term plans.
Then the season began, Marte got suspended for PEDs and, after a bumpy start, McCutchen caught fire. He hit .411/.505/.689 in June he has a .333/.444/.561 line in the month of July. For the year he’s now at .292/.384/.507 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. Even with Marte back on the roster, McCutchen is the Pirates’ center fielder. What’s more, the Pirates, after beginning the season slowly have righted the ship somewhat and are now only three games back in the NL Central.
All of which makes this, from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, unsurprising:
That option is a quite reasonable $14.5 million, so it seems sorta crazy that they wouldn’t pick it up. Of course if they remain coy enough about it for now perhaps someone will bowl them over with an offer. Letting McCutchen walk seems insane. Unloading him for a hefty haul would, well, still be kinda crazy given how popular McCutchen is with the fan base, but not truly insane.
The Brewers were rumored last week to have been “aggressive” in talks for Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, however, that the talks are a bit more wide-ranging than that.
Crasnick says that the two clubs are also discussing Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, potentially in a package deal with Wilson. Crasnick says that the Brewers “would love to have Kinsler,” but their main focus at the moment is pitching help. Of course, the Brewers current second baseman — Jonathan Villar — is hitting a meager .223/.285/.348 in 334 plate appearances.
Kinsler is having a down season for him — .237/.331/.400 — but he’s better than that and, of course, would represent an improvement. He’s under contract through the end of this year but he has a very affordable, $10 million club option for 2018. Wilson will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, so he’s still under team control as well. As such a Kinsler/Wilson package would likely cost the Brewers a high price, so you have to think they’d try to exhaust cheaper options before making such a deal.
The Brewers had been in first place in the NL Central since June 7, but the Cubs caught them yesterday. They’re in a virtual tie, with Chicago percentage points ahead. This should prove to be a very interesting week for the Brewers’ front office.