How quickly opinions change.
Down 2-0 in the World Series entering this busy sports weekend, some Rangers fans were pushing for the club to start ace left-hander Cliff Lee in Game 4. But that kind of talk mostly took place before Texas won Game 3 and now it appears that manager Ron Washington will stick to his guns.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com says that Tommy Hunter will start tonight’s Game 4 in Arlington, Texas and that Lee will be held off until Game 5.
It’s the right move. Lee has never pitched on three days’ rest in the postseason and wasn’t exactly a world-beater in his first 2010 Fall Classic start back in Game 1. The extra day should help and he should dominate on the familiar Texas mound.
Hunter will need to be at his best tonight to accomplish the same goal. He’s made two starts in these playoffs and allowed six runs in 7.1 innings.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.