TORONTO — Justin Smoak was blinking in the harsh light of the television cameras. He’d just walked off the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-8, lobbing a solo shot 368 feet over the wall in right to cap a seven-run inning, tying a club record for the largest ninth-inning comeback in Toronto Blue Jays history.
He bowed his head to avoid the light, looked up through his eyebrows at the assembled media waiting to speak with him, and opened his scrum with a statement.
“What a hit K-Mo got, huh?”
That would be the two-out duck snort Kendrys Morales lofted into shallow centre field just two pitches before Smoak ended it — a ball that carried a six per cent hit probability. Rays closer Sergio Romo was so certain he’d completed his save that he pointed at his catcher and slapped his glove in celebration as the ball sailed towards to the outfield.
But Romo, Morales, and the rest of us could only watch as the ball dropped perfectly in the middle of four sprinting Rays, onto the exact patch of turf where none of them could reach it. It was the kind of fortune you often need if you’re going to overcome a six-run deficit in the ninth. The kind of absurd twist of fate that makes baseball such a crazy game.
Smoak talked about that outrageous ninth inning for a minute and a half before still-flabbergasted reporters ran out of questions and let him escape the lights. Waiting for him on the periphery of the scrum? Morales. Smoak wrapped his arm around the big designated hitter’s shoulders.
“Hey, man,” he said. “What a single.”
Dwight Smith Jr. was trying to do anything he could to get on base. Leading off the bottom of the ninth inning, his team stuck six, he merely wanted to create a spark.
“You’re trying to keep the game going and let it be possible to make a run. Or even just bring some momentum into the next day if we don’t win,” Smith said. “So, I was just trying to get on base at all costs. I never want to get out in the last inning. I take pride in that.”
Rays reliever Jamie Schultz didn’t make it easy. He started Smith with three tough fastballs right on the edges of the strike zone. But Smith was patient and calls went his way, which allowed him to work the count …read more
Source:: Sportsnet.ca – Sports news