Smolinski's diving grabs add to memorable debut week
Rookie outfielder fights sun to take away three-run double from Pujols
ARLINGTON -- Rangers rookie outfielder Jake Smolinski had eight hits in his first five games in the Majors. On Saturday night, Smolinski showed his defensive side in left field with a brilliant diving catch in the third inning of the Rangers' 5-2 loss to the Angels.
The Rangers were leading 2-0 going into the inning but the Angels loaded the bases with one out. That brought up Albert Pujols and he crushed a line drive into the left-center-field gap.
It appeared to be a three-run double but Smolinski raced into the gap, fought off the early evening sun and made a tremendous diving catch.
"I just saw it well off the bat," Smolinski said. "I went all out because I wanted to give myself a chance to dive."
A run still scored on what Smolinski turned into a sacrifice fly, but Rangers starter Miles Mikolas struck out Josh Hamilton and left the inning with a 2-1 lead.
Smolinski also had a diving catch on Hamilton's line drive in the second inning.
"He has an idea of how to play the game," manager Ron Washington said. "He is into the game when he is in the outfield. He is a baseball player."
The game started at 6:15 p.m. because of television so Smolinski had to deal with the bright sun shining directly into left field.
"It was bright but luckily for us, we weren't looking directly in the sun," Smolinski said.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.