Washington’s choice backfires in Rangers loss
ARLINGTON, Texas — Rangers manager Ron Washington says he doesn’t play the odds.
Yet Washington definitely was playing the percentages when he pinch-hit for Mitch Moreland in the seventh inning of Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the A’s.
The left-handed Moreland had hit two home runs in his last two plate appearances, a 368-foot shot the opposite field in the fourth and a 376-foot bomb to right in the sixth.
Yet when Moreland was due up with two outs in the seventh with a runner on, Washington pulled him in favor of Brandon Snyder.
Oakland had just switched from righthander Grant Balfour to lefty Jordan Norberto. Washington, rather than going with the hot hand, went with a batter who hits lefties better historically.
Snyder flew out to right and score remained tied, 4-4, until Oakland won it in the 10th.
“That was the situation where the game was on the line and I felt more comfortable with the righthander against a lefthander,” Washington said. “That’s the difference. If it was fifth or sixth, I don’t take Moreland out.”
The numbers support Washington’s move, if not necessarily the momentum.
Moreland is a career .224 hitter against lefties. He’s hitting just .188 (3-for-16) against southpaws this season.
Snyder hits significantly better against lefties, although with just 33 games on his major league resume the sample size is small.
Snyder has hit .357 (15-for-42) against lefthanders in his career and is .364 (8-for-22) against them this season.
Those numbers are why Washington said he didn’t hesitate making the move.
“I felt comfortable with Snyder against a lefty,” Washington said.
When pressed further about removing a hot-hitting Moreland, Washington said, “Have you been watching many ballgames? OK. Then there’s your answer. When Moreland’s facing lefties, what did it look like?”
Washington felt a lot more comfortable making the move than Moreland did answering questions about it.
“He’s the manager, he makes the decisions,” Moreland said.
It wasn’t hard to tell that Moreland would have loved to hit with the game on the line in the seventh, especially since he was seeing the ball so well Thursday.
“I want to get as many at-bats as I can,” Moreland said. “I always want to play. That’s just the way it goes.”
Moreland didn’t have to be told it’s his lack of production against lefties that caused him to be pulled.
“The few times I’ve been in there [against lefthanders], it’s been kind of spotty,” Moreland said. “I’ve felt good sometimes, and sometimes I’ve felt a little uncomfortable, but I think it kind of comes with experience against them.”
To get that experience Moreland will have to show more in the few opportunities he gets against lefthanders. Washington said he has not determined that Moreland is strictly a platoon player, so taking him out against lefties is not an automatic decision.
“No, it just depends on where we are in the ballgame,” Washington said. “If we’re in the fifth or sixth inning and they make a pitching change and they bring in a lefty, I’m not taking Moreland out right there.”
Moreland is confident he will get another chance, in part because of the way the team is constructed.
“We have a lot of depth,” Moreland said. “All 25 guys here are going to be ready to go, and everybody in here has confidence in each other.
That’s what makes us such a great team, we’ve got so many pieces to the puzzle. And it’s a complete effort every game.”
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire