Monday, July 30, 2012
Historic night for Kendrys Morales
By David Collier
ARLINGTON, Texas -- When Kendrys Morales stepped into the batter’s box in the sixth inning of Monday’s series opener against the Texas Rangers, he was in a 1-for-17 slump and had recorded two strikeouts in his first two at-bats. But everything changed in that sixth inning, as Morales had a historic six-RBI, two-home run inning that helped give the Los Angeles Angels a 15-8 win.
Morales hit a two-run shot from the left side of the plate in his first at-bat of the inning before hitting a grand slam from the right side in his next at-bat to put an exclamation point on the nine-run sixth for the Angels.
With the historic inning, the switch-hitting Morales became just the third player in major league history to hit a home run from each side of the plate in one inning, joining Carlos Baerga and Mark Bellhorn.
“I’m so very excited,” Morales said through an interpreter. “It’s not an easy thing to do. At the same time, I feel like I’m lucky.”
The records didn’t end there. Morales also tied the major league record for two home runs in an inning. He was the 25th player in American League history to tackle the feat and second player in Angels history. The only other Angel to do so was Rick Reichardt on April 30, 1966, at Boston.
“You don’t see that every day,” Torii Hunter said of Morales’ historic night. “Then, from both sides of the plate. It’s probably a first for me. As long as you stay in this game, you’re always going to see something different. It never fails.”
Prior to the explosive sixth inning, Morales had just eight hits in his previous 54 at-bats (.148). Because of his struggles, he tried an old trick. After striking out in his first at-bat of the night, Morales elected not to use his batting gloves.
“I’ve done it in the past, and it worked,” Morales said. “So, I thought why not try it? Obviously, it worked.”
Indeed, it did. Morales said he last tried that in 2009 when he hit .306 with 34 home runs and 108 RBIs. He said wearing gloves sometimes makes his hands slower to react.
Morales’ big night highlighted a nine-run sixth inning that saw 12 Angels hitters head to the plate. L.A. manager Mike Scioscia said he hopes the big night will jump-start Morales for the remainder of the season.
“We need Kendrys,” Scioscia said. “The past 100 at-bats, he hasn’t been driving the ball and swinging like he can. It was good to see. We needed it tonight. ... Kendrys had started to show some frustration. We’ve been working on a couple of things in the cages. He just hasn’t gotten into that comfort zone. At the plate at times, it looks like he’s searching.
“Sometimes, it just takes one swing. Hopefully, it’s going to start something good. He’s too good of a hitter to be down so long.”