ANAHEIM -- With 22-year-old rookie lefty Reid Detmers on the verge of history with a no-hit bid through eight innings, the Rays trotted out position player Brett Phillips to the mound for the eighth inning with the Angels already leading by eight runs.
Phillips had the tough task of facing the heart of the Angels’ order and he paid for it, serving up a two-run blast to superstar Mike Trout for his second homer of the game before giving up a double off the wall to two-way star Shohei Ohtani. But it was Anthony Rendon who turned heads, as he came to the plate batting left-handed for the first time in his career. Rendon amazingly hit a two-run blast to right field that capped the scoring in an unforgettable 12-0 win that saw Detmers complete the no-hitter.
“I thought it was great theater,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “It was the perfect time to pull it off. Baseball is looking for moments like that. The crowd responded properly. No disrespect to the other side. It was just a fun baseball moment."
Rendon didn’t want to take away from Detmers’ historic night, so he deferred when asked questions about his left-handed home run, but Maddon pointed out that Rendon sometimes hits left-handed in the batting cages for fun, so this wasn’t exactly new.
Maddon, though, didn’t realize what was happening until Angels field coordinator Mike Gallego pointed it out in the dugout. Rendon responded and it wasn't a cheap homer either, as it left the bat at 101 mph and went a projected 411 feet.
"He does that a lot with the guys downstairs in the batting cage,” Maddon said. “I'm standing there and Gags is like, 'He has a different helmet on.' And that ball wasn't just a homer. It was well-struck. All the hitting coaches said he can do this. And after the game, Anthony said he's been hitting from the wrong side all along."
Rendon set a record, as his 4,528 plate appearances batting righty before his lefty homer were the most career plate appearances from one side before a homer from the other side among non-switch-hitters.
What did Phillips think of being taken deep by a lefty Anthony Rendon?
“Honestly," Phillips said, "I didn't even know that was him until he crossed the plate and I saw his last name.”