Extra bases: Smolinski keeps impressing

July, 13, 2014
Jul 13
10:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jake Smolinski only a couple of days ago was worried about playing defense in early innings because at this time of year, the sun is directly in the eyes of the left fielder.

Smolinski, one of the newest Rangers, looked as if he had been playing left field in Globe Life Park all of his career with two spectacular diving catches in Saturday's 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

[+] EnlargeJake Smolinski
Jim Cowsert/USA TODAY SportsJake Smolinski raises his glove after one of two diving catches he pulled off against the Angels on Saturday.
He took a hit away from Josh Hamilton in the second inning, racing in and to his left with a dive. An inning later, he victimized Albert Pujols with an even more impressive play. Smolinski raced to his left and made a headlong dive, plucking the ball off the grass.

"When he hit it, I thought I had a shot," Smolinski said of the catch on Pujols' hit. "Right before the ball arrived, I told myself I'm going to give it all I've got and if I miss it, so what."

The Angels had the bases loaded at the time and instead of scoring two or three, Los Angeles had to settle for one on a sacrifice fly.

For Smolinski, it is the latest chapter in a whirlwind of a first week in the majors. Even after going 0-for-3 on Saturday, his batting average is .471. In his first four major league starts, he went 8-for-12, a Rangers club record. Five of the hits came in succession.

He batted .267 this season at Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock before being promoted Monday.

"I'm not worried about the numbers," Smolinski said. "It's a small sample. I'm just taking it one day at a time."

He said he has noticed several differences about the big leagues compared to the minors.

"The pressure of the game is much more," he said. “The crowds are a lot bigger than I'm used to. The atmosphere is different."

The Rangers host the Angels in their final game before the All-Star break at 2:05 p.m. CT Sunday at Globe Life Park.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Colby Lewis
WINS ERA SO IP
10 5.12 123 158
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .325
HRA. Beltre 18
RBIA. Beltre 71
RA. Beltre 74
OPSA. Beltre .880
ERAC. Lewis 5.12
SOY. Darvish 182