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Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Russell Branyan's freakish feats

By Mark Saxon

The Angels have one of the most enigmatic players in the game on their roster, though most days you'd hardly notice he was around.

Russell Branyan is among the most consistent home run hitters in baseball history. Yes, you read that right. Baseball history.

In his career, which goes all the way back to 1998, he has homered once every 15.16 at-bats. That ranks No. 17 all-time, 11 slots behind Jim Thome, who just hit his 600th home run. Branyan has played for 10 franchises and has gotten 400 at-bats in a season only once, primarily because hitting home runs is about his only marketable commodity.

He does his one trick well. After not seeing a live pitch for nearly three weeks, he homered off Mariano Rivera in New York last week. Then, five days later, he hit his second pinch-hit home run in as many at-bats, this time taking Alexi Ogando deep Monday night.

It's hard to calculate the degree of difficulty of that feat.

"Pinch-hitting's tough, but that's my role here," Branyan said. "I know there's no chance I'm going to start here, so I'm happy with what I've got. In Arizona, it was a little tougher to swallow, because I felt I could have been the starter."

Here are lineups for Tuesday night:

Texas

1. Ian Kinsler 2B

2. Elvis Andrus SS

3. Josh Hamilton LF

4. Michael Young 3B

5. Nelson Cruz RF

6. Mike Napoli C

7. Mitch Moreland 1B

8. Yorvit Torrealba DH

9. Endy Chavez CF

Angels

1. Peter Bourjos CF

2. Alberto Callaspo 3B

3. Bobby Abreu DH

4. Torii Hunter RF

5. Mark Trumbo 1B

6. Vernon Wells LF

7. Howie Kendrick 2B

8. Erick Aybar SS

9. Jeff Mathis C