I was paying attention to Matt Stairs more closely to see when he’d get his first hit at all this season. Little did I know — until I read Adam Kilgore’s story in this morning’s Washington Post anyway — that the hit he had in last night’s game was his 100th career pinch hit.
Strange career for a neat guy. There aren’t many non-head cases who have played for a bunch of different teams, but Stairs is decidedly not that and has played for 13. A lot of that has to do with his pinch-hitting rep — those guys don’t last on the same team for a very long time — but I kind of suspect that a lot of guys could be pinch hitters. With Stairs I’m sure it has a lot to do with his willingness to take on the role with little fuss and the fact that he’s really likable. Need a pinch hitter this year? OK, call Stairs.
The loss of a close, well-pitched game is hard enough for any team to take, but when you lose two key players to injury in the process it’s gotta be damn nigh intolerable. That’s what happened to the Angels last night in their 3-1 loss to Minnesota, losing Andrelton Simmons and Shohei Ohtani. And it happened on consecutive plays in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Simmons is likely to be gone for an extended period after suffering a sprained ankle which was later deemed “severe”. Indeed, they weren’t sure it wasn’t broken until the X-rays came back negative. He sustained the injury running to first base, trying to beat out an infield hit. He came down on the ankle and it twisted in ugly fashion — there are Gifs of it on Twitter and stuff, but you don’t wanna see them — before tumbling over the bag to the ground. Simmons will have an MRI today to see how bad things really are.
Ohtani got off more easily, getting hit in the right ring finger with a pitch while striking out. His X-rays were also negative, but they will reassess him today.
Simmons is hitting .298/.323/.415 on the year while playing his usual spectacular defense. Ohtani, who just came back from Tommy John surgery as a hitter a couple of weeks ago, is hitting .250/.345/.375.