With Baltimore throwing left-hander Wei-Yin Chen on Monday night, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon loaded his lineup with every available right-handed hitter except one. That would be Jerry Sands. Maddon had late-inning plans for Sands. And wouldn’t you know, those plans worked. For the second consecutive game, Sands came off the bench in the eighth-inning to drive in the winning run. On Sunday, it was a broken-bat single. On Monday, was a towering home run down the left-field line with Evan Longoria on first base that broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Rays a two-run lead in a game they would win, 5-4, in front of 10,576 at Tropicana Field. It was the Rays’ fourth win in their last five games. “We’ve been struggling to get some wins here lately,” Sands said. “It’s fun to be the guy that does it for the team.” Sands is 3-for-6 this season as a pinch-hitter. He became the first major leaguer to have game-winning pinch-hits in consecutive games since Howard Battle for Atlanta on Sept. 7-8, 1999. Sands is the first American League player to turn that trick since Oakland’s Harold Baines on Sept. 21-22, 1990. Maddon said he likes Sands as a pinch-hitter because the 26-year-old outfielder/infielder — called up last homestand when Wil Myers was placed on the disabled list — is an aggressive swinger, the kind who can turn a game with a homer. “I just see him as not being overwhelmed in the situation,” Maddon said. “And he’s got that.” By “that,” Maddon means power, although it was only the fifth career home run for Sands and the first since Sept. 20, 2011, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sands has only three hits since his call-up – all as a pinch-hitter. His first hit snapped the Rays’ streak of 0-for-34 with runners in scoring position. His last two won games.
Rays beat Orioles as Sands delivers again
Tampa Tribune | Jun 17