Rays acquire Duda, Jennings, lose shocker to Yankees
By RONALD BLUM
Jul. 28, 2017
NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Colome had gotten Gary Sanchez to hit a two-hopper to the left side of infield with two outs in the ninth inning, thought he had stranded Brett Gardner on third base and preserved a 5-4 win over the New York Yankees.
Shifted to the shortstop side, second baseman Tim Beckham looked at Adeiny Hechavarria. The shortstop looked at Beckham.
Gardner then homered leading off the 11th inning to give the Yankees an improbable 6-5 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, who felt great Thursday afternoon after adding two more reinforcements and lousy at the end of a long night.
"That loss stunk, no doubt about it," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "That loss is going to stink on the first day of the season, on the last day of the season, on whatever today is."
Tampa Bay acquired Dan Jennings from the Chicago White Sox to boost the left side of the bullpen and obtained first baseman Lucas Duda from the New York Mets. The Rays sent first baseman Casey Gillaspie, the 20th overall draft pick in 2014, to the White Sox and right-hander Drew Smith, a third-round selection two years ago, to the Mets.
Jennings contributed to the loss, entering at the start of the eighth and allowing singles to Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley that led to Matt Holliday's run-scoring forceout. Duda is to arrive Friday.
"He's got a long red-eye flight tonight. He'll get in here and plan is to DH him tomorrow," Cash said. "If you think that you're adding a guy like that here with two months, that's a pretty special bat to get."
The Rays, three games out of first in the AL East, are trying to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2013. They obtained infielder Trevor Plouffe from Oakland on June 17, Hechavarria from the Marlins on June 26 and right-hander Sergio Romo from the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 23.
"Beckham hasn't played with Hechavarria a lot," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "When you make trades and you get new people, it takes him to get comfortable in those situations. They're both outstanding defenders. They've played really good defense. We caught a break."
Hechavarria put his hands on his hips and stared. He said through a translator he wasn't used to positioning himself that far toward third.
"I guess you could say we're just not familiar playing with each other," Beckham said. "We knew what to do if a ball was hit in between, and it just didn't take place. I'm not going to point the finger at anyone at all, but the play has to be made."
Gardner said the shifts era has complicated fielding.
"With the way teams run defenses these days, that kind of thing happens," he said. "Routine ground ball to shortstop or second base, sometimes they're not so routine anymore."
When Jennings walked into the Rays clubhouse about 2 1/2 hours before game time, he saw Logan Morrison walk by and gave his old Miami Marlins teammate a poke on the arm. Morrison did a double take and gave the pitcher a hug.
"This has been a great group to watch play and to play themselves into the position that we're in," Tampa Bay senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said. "We believe in these guys and we really like these group, and we want to keep sending them reinforcements to show them that we want to do everything we can to help them get where they're trying to go."
Jennings found about trade after the White Sox lost 8-3 to the Cubs on Wednesday night.
He parked in the garage under his building in the South Loop and was out of cell phone range for 5-to-10 minutes as he helped wife Courtney, who is 7 months pregnant, get upstairs along with 3 1/2-year-old daughter Brooklyn. When the phone came to life upstairs, he saw White Sox general manager Rick Hahn had left a text.
Jennings was 3-1 with a 3.45 ERA in 48 appearances for the White Sox this season and held left-handed hitters to a .169 batting average (12 for 71) with one extra-base hit.
"Over the last four weeks we've seen his stuff kind of tick up," Cash said.
Jennings caught a flight to New York on Thursday. The deals signaled to players that management thinks the Rays can win this year.
"Their commitment to this team shows a lot," outfielder Steven Souza Jr. said. "We're just excited that they're behind us in this."
The 30-year-old Jennings is not eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season. He lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and works out with Morrison during the offseason.
"LoMo is great," Jennings said. "I like his fire, his passion, and he keeps it light. That's the biggest thing."
Duda, a 31-year-old eligible for free agency after this season, is hitting .246 with 17 homers and 37 RBIs. The Rays envision him spending most of his time at designated hitter.
"I've heard rumors and stuff," Duda said at the Mets clubhouse in San Diego. "Kind of a mixed emotion. Guys here I've really grown pretty close to."
Outfielder Curtis Granderson, also eligible for free agency, held onto Duda's left leg as the first baseman walked out, prompting laughter.
Tampa's two trades added $3,127,322 in payroll: $2,614,754 remaining of Duda's $7.25 million salary and $512,568 of Jennings' $1.4 million.
Smith, a 23-year-old right-hander, was a third-round draft pick by Detroit two years ago and was dealt to Tampa Bay in April. He is 1-2 with a 1.60 ERA with seven saves in 31 games this season for four minor league teams ranging from Class-A to Triple-A.
Tampa Bay designated right-handed reliever Diego Moreno and outfielder Shane Peterson for assignment. More moves are ahead Friday, when Duda reports and rookie right-hander Austin Pruitt will be brought up to start against the New York Yankees. Pruitt takes the slot of injured right-hander Jake Odorizzi.
"It's fun to be in the position," Bloom said. "It's exciting. It's exhilarating."
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