Yet another team has decided to go with two hitting coaches, as the Rays promoted minor league staffer Jamie Nelson to the assistant hitting coach role under primary hitting coach Derek Shelton.
Nelson has been managing and coaching in the Rays’ farm system for 13 years and will also be tasked with working specifically with catchers.
“Assistant hitting coach” was all but unheard of just a few years ago, but now nearly half the teams employ one and this offseason has seen the number rise dramatically.
Prior to the fifth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS, Luis Severino was dealing. He tossed 53 pitches, 42 landing for strikes, 13 fanning three batters through four scoreless innings. Justin Verlander matched him at every turn, keeping the Yankees at bay with six strikeouts through five innings (including a filthy curveball to Todd Frazier that just looked ridiculous), but it’s the Yankees who are eligible to join rare company with a win later tonight. Should they overcome a three-run deficit to defeat the Astros, either with a Game 6 victory or a Game 7 tiebreaker tomorrow evening, they’ll be the sixth MLB team to dismantle two 100+ win opponents in the same postseason.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, these are the others:
Predictably, most of the teams were World Series champions: the 2004 Red Sox, 2003 Marlins and 1988 Dodgers. The 2001 Yankees were responsible for kicking the winningest team out of the postseason after taking down the 116-win Mariners, whose record hadn’t been replicated since the 116-36 Cubs in 1906. They pushed the World Series to seven games before dropping a 3-2 nail-biter to the Diamondbacks. The 1998 Padres were even unluckier after finding themselves on the wrong end of a four-game sweep by the Yankees.
It’s not looking particularly swell for the Yankees tonight. Severino was booted in the fifth inning after Brian McCann dented the right field wall with a ground-rule RBI double and Jose Altuve cleared the bases with a two-out, two-RBI line drive. Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius put runners on corners in the sixth, but Verlander refused to relent, inducing an inning-ending groundout to preserve the Astros’ three-run lead.
Houston currently leads 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth.