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.
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas belted his 37th home run on Wednesday evening, setting a new club record for homers in a single season. Moustakas had been tied with Steve Balboni, who hit 36 home runs in 1985.
The home run came on a 2-0, 82 MPH slider from Blue Jays reliever Carlos Ramirez, boosting the Royals’ lead to 13-0 in the top of the sixth inning.
Moustakas, 29, entered the night batting .271/.313/.523 with 82 RBI and 71 runs scored in 560 plate appearances.
Red Sox starter Chris Sale recorded his 300th strikeout of the 2017 season on Wednesday night against the Orioles. The momentous occasion occurred with two outs in the eighth inning. Facing Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a slider that caught the strike zone low and inside for called strike three.
Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strikeout 300-plus batters in a season in the last 15 years. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson accomplished the feat in 2002, and Johnson also did it in 2001 and 2000. Pedro Martinez had been the only other Red Sox pitcher to have a 300-strikeout season.
Through eight scoreless innings, Sale limited the Orioles to four hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts. The Red Sox offense gave him plenty of run support. Mookie Betts and Devin Marrero each hit two-run home runs in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez added a two-run double in the sixth and Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run double of his own in the eighth to make it 8-0.