It’s too bad Ron Washington didn’t care to play the matchups in the ninth inning Monday night in Oakland’s 12-1 blowout of Texas.
The Rangers manager opted to run out Craig Gentry as a reliever in the ninth, utilizing the outfielder to save his bullpen. Gentry faced seven batters, allowing two runs on three hits in the inning. The right-hander initially faced two righties and two switch-hitters to start the frame, before contending with two lefties in the heart of the A’s order.
Gentry does have a splash of pitching experience from college, having appeared in two games for Arkansas in 2005. But, like his current major league ERA of 18.00, he also owns a double-digit collegiate ERA in limited experience.
All told, Monday night’s outing was a success. Gentry got through the inning. That’s all a manager can ask of a position player who is called upon to mop up a laugher. However, the Rangers have a potential beast of an arm in left-handed first baseman Mitch Moreland.
Moreland actually has a wealth of college experience, having excelled as a two-way player at Will Clark’s alma mater Mississippi State. In three years on the hill, Moreland notched a 5-0 record with 45 strikeouts through 33 relief innings. His pitching arm was so valued, he was viewed by many as a pitching prospect heading into the 2007 draft. When the Rangers selected him in the 17th round, it was noted Moreland fought tooth-and-nail to sign as a position player.
As it was, Gentry faired well against lefty Seth Smith. Gentry was the only pitcher to retire Smith all night. Sitting on a 4-for-4 night with three legs of the cycle heading into his final at bat, Smith flied out to left to end the ninth.