ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Brandon Drury has done exactly what the Angels hoped when they signed him last winter.
If he were batting sixth or seventh, as they’d planned, then they might really have something.
Instead, Drury has been elevated to the No. 3 spot in the injury-ravaged batting order.
He hit a pair of home runs and drove in five runs to help the Angels snap a six-game losing streak with an 8-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night.
Drury, who hit a three-run homer in the second and a two-run shot in the sixth, has hit 23 homers this season. He has a .791 OPS, which is comparable production to his 28 homers and .812 OPS last year considering that he played most of the season in hitter-friendly Cincinnati.
Defensively, the 31-year-old has played well at second base and occasionally at first. He’s fourth on the team with 115 games. He was batting seventh on Opening Day, behind players like Taylor Ward, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, Hunter Renfroe and Luis Rengifo.
All of them are now injured except for Renfroe, who was placed on waivers last month.
Drury has another year left on his two-year, $17 million deal, but it remains to be seen how they will use him in 2024. He is best at second, but he can play first and third, so he could be insurance behind Rendon at third or in case Nolan Schanuel isn’t ready to be an everyday first baseman.
The Angels also could have the DH spot open next season, allowing all sorts of lineup permutations.
Next season the Angels will also hope for a full year of what they’ve seen lately from left-hander Reid Detmers, who now has a 2.65 ERA over his last six starts.
Detmers didn’t qualify for the victory in this one – even though the Angels gave him a 6-0 lead in the second inning – because of his pitch count.
He threw 96 pitches in four innings and was done. Detmers could have been more efficient, but he also had to throw an extra 11 pitches because of errors in the third and fourth innings. The third-inning error by third baseman Eduardo Escobar also led to the only run that Detmers allowed.
Detmers continued the increased changeup use he started a couple of weeks ago. He threw the pitch 23% of the time, his second-highest percentage of the season. Three of his seven strikeouts were on changeups.
©2023 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit ocregister.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.