UPDATE: This is strange. Marc Topkin reports that Longoria left the game “for precautionary reasons,” given that the Rays were playing a day game after a travel day. Which, OK, but the game was tied 3-3 and the Rays are fighting for their playoff lives. Are the Nationals making decisions about his playing time now too?
3: 48 PM: No word yet on why he’s out, and there was no apparent injury while he was in the game, but Evan Longoria left the Yankees-Rays game after the seventh inning today.
As Marc Topkin notes, Longoria said today that he was feeling fine and had no plans to miss any more games for the rest of the season, so this is something of a mystery at the moment.
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.