If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again. No matter that it takes three bats to complete the job.
That's what Jerry Sands of the Tampa Bay Rays learned Sunday afternoon when he broke his bat three times on three straight swings against the Houston Astros before connecting for a pinch-hit, tie-breaking single in the eighth inning. The Rays won 4-3.
After shattering two bats on foul balls, Sands muscled a single to left that broke his bat again but also scored Matt Joyce from second base. Sands just kept enlisting the bat boy to find more more bats against right-hander Jerome Williams, who kept on breaking them. Via the Associated Press:
Sands was asked if all of the bats he used were his or if he had to borrow one.
''Yes (but) we had to dig deep,'' he said. ''It was pretty crazy. I don't think I've ever broken two in an at-bat, but three on three consecutive swings was pretty crazy.''
Tampa Bay Times writer Joe Smith noted that Sands "didn't crack under pressure" — oy! — when asked to pinch hit with a dwindling supply of maple wood.
Meanwhile, Sands stayed ready, having gone 1-for-9 with five strikeouts since getting called up two weeks ago. Sands said he had to "dig deep" to find another bat before getting jammed with a Williams pitch, using his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame to lift it into left.
Joked Sands: "Need to get in a new bat order now."
The Rays, who also got 10 strikeouts by left-hander David Price, hadn't won for him in five starts or — as Price put it — "three road trips ago." Overall, the Rays won their first series since May 23-25 at Boston, and improved to 27-43 — which still is the worst record in the majors.
Also of note: For the second time in a week, Astros left-hander Tony Sipp played the outfield for a batter — then went back to the mound — after being replaced as a pitcher in the ninth. Houston manager Bo Porter was playing the match-ups, and the team's bullpen is lean on lefties.
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