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Jerry Sands, the Tampa Bay Rays pinch hitter, is the man of the hour in Tampa.
On Sunday, he smacked a base hit in the eighth inning of a 3-3 ballgame to give the Rays a 4-3 win over the Houston Astros. The next day, he again entered the game in the eighth inning with the score tied at three. This time, he belted a two-run home run down the left field line that gave the Rays a two-run, as they went on to defeat the Baltimore Orioles 5-4.
Prior to these two at-bats, Sands was 1-for-9 in pinch hitting situations. He also had a total of five career home runs, according to ESPN.
His late-game heroics have been instrumental in Tampa Bay pulling off four wins in their last five games. Before this stretch, the Rays had lost 14 of 15.
“It’s nice to get this team another win,” Sands said after the game on MLB.com. “Even when we were playing pretty bad and weren’t getting any wins, we still knew what we had in the clubhouse; we knew what kind of talent we had in there. Obviously, we tried to keep our heads up as long as we could, and it’s turning around for us so far.”
The Rays struck in the bottom of the first inning on a 413-foot solo homer off the bat of shortstop Yunel Escobar. Catcher Ryan Hanigan blasted a two-run shot in the fourth to make the score 3-0.
Center fielder Adam Jones got Baltimore on the scoreboard with a two-run home run in the sixth. With the bases loaded in the eighth, designated hitter Nelson Crus hit an infield single to tie the game at three. The Orioles failed to take the lead in this rally.
Trailing by two runs in the ninth, Baltimore sliced the deficit in half with a home run by pinch hitter Delmon Young. Right fielder Nick Markakis and third baseman Manny Machado both popped up to the left side of the infield to end the game.
Reliever Jake McGee picked up the win for the Rays, and Orioles reliever Darren O’Day suffered the loss.
The two clubs play Tuesday night before finishing up the series on Wednesday afternoon.