Angels slugger is third player in MLB annals to connect lefty and righty in same inning
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INGTON -- Kendrys Morales was one frustrated slugger heading into a sixth inning that put him in rarefied air. He had just three hits in his last 28 at-bats, striking out 14 times, and was trying just about everything to find the right balance in the batter's box and get back to his old self.
Finally, after striking out in his first plate appearance against Rangers starter Roy Oswalt on Monday, he decided to scrap the batting gloves, a method that temporarily worked for him while at his peak in 2009.
"I feel like I squeeze the bat a little harder if I'm not wearing batting gloves," Morales said in Spanish. "Up to now, when I was using batting gloves, I felt like I wasn't holding the bat hard enough and my swing was a little too slow."
Morales may never wear batting gloves again.
Without them, he accomplished what only two other players in Major League history had ever done, hitting a home run from each side of the plate in the same inning.
During a nine-run sixth at Rangers Ballpark, Morales hit a two-run homer off Oswalt from the left side, then a grand slam off reliever Robbie Ross from the right side in leading the Angels to a 15-8 rout in the series opener against their division rivals.
The only other players to hit a homer from both sides of the plate in the same inning were Carlos Baerga of the Indians on April 8, 1993 (off Steve Howe and Steve Farr) and Mark Bellhorn of the Cubs on Aug. 29, 2002 (off Andrew Lorraine and Jose Cabrera), according to Baseball-Reference.com.
"I'm really happy to have done that; it's obviously not easy to do that in the same inning," said Morales, now with 11 homers and a .271 batting average on the year. "I feel like that may be more luck than anything else."
The six RBIs in one frame set a franchise record, is one short of the American League record and two short of the Major League record.
Two homers in the same inning, no matter the side, ties a Major League record and marks the 25th time an AL hitter has done it. The only other Angel to do that was Rick Reichert in 1966; the last player to do it altogether was Pablo Sandoval of the Giants on Sept. 18, 2011.
Morales' feat marks the 13th time an Angels player has homered from each side of the plate in the same game, and the fifth time it has come against the Rangers.
With Albert Pujols on second to start the top of the sixth, Morales and his bare hands took a hanging breaking ball from Oswalt and lined it over the right-field fence, snapping an 0-for-13 skid and giving the Angels a 5-3 lead. Long after that, he got a 3-2 fastball down the middle from Ross and hit a towering fly ball that went just beyond the outstretched glove of right fielder Nelson Cruz in right-center for a grand slam, putting the finishing touches on a monster inning, and perhaps ending some maddening frustrations by Morales.
"We love him here, man," outfielder Torii Hunter said. "He's so funny. And we hate to see him go through something like that. We hate to see any of our teammates go through that. Kendrys is a special guy in the clubhouse, so everybody's trying to lift him up, keep him laughing. Today, he had a breakout party -- a hit party. Pretty impressive."