ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Lefty Mitch Moreland is in the Texas Rangers Game 5 lineup against Tampa Bay Rays power southpaw David Price because he's taken more cuts in this ALDS than right-handed hitting Jorge Cantu, the Game 1 starter who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
That's it. Plain and simple, manager Ron Washington said.
"Mitch has seen more pitches. He's had more repetition," Washington said. "It's too bad that we haven't seen many lefties to continue to give Cantu some swings."
So the rookie Moreland, who followed Chris Davis and Justin Smoak, and then platooned with Cantu at first base this season, will start perhaps the biggest game in franchise history. He'll bat ninth, and even Washington admitted that he has no idea how Moreland will handle going against a dominant lefty hurler like Price.
"None at all. He's only in there because he's had repetition, he's seen pitches," Washington said. "Cantu hasn't seen a pitch since the last time he was here. It would be unfair to him to try to put him in there, but I told him to stay ready."
Cantu is possible right-handed pinch-hitter if Price goes deep into the game or if the Rays' go to lone lefty reliever Randy Choate. Choate got Moreland to fly out in Game 2 after coming in specifically to pitch to Moreland, who is 2-for-11 in the series.
"I just feel like since Moreland has been seeing pitches," Washington said. "If Price puts one in the wrong spot, he can deliver for us. He can even work a walk, if possible."