Rays bats come alive in 11-5 win over Yankees
At some point, Joe Maddon has insisted, the line drives will have eyes, the ground balls will find holes and the zeroes on the scoreboard will be replaced by heroes at the plate.
It happened Friday as the Rays not only snapped out of their collective batting slump, it was enough to break their four-game losing streak with an 11-5 come-from-behind win over the New York Yankees before 26,079 at Tropicana Field.
The Rays banged out 16 hits and scored all their runs with two out Friday in their biggest offensive explosion since Opening Day.
First baseman James Loney, who had only 5 RBI all season, drove in four runs, including a two-out single in the seventh that gave the Rays their first lead in 42 innings. Sean Rodriguez added a two-run homer in the eighth, his third of the year.
“I’d like to believe this is a definite re-boot kind of game,’’ Maddon said. “Offensively, we’ve been talking about it for a long time. We even had a lot of hard-hit balls caught tonight.
“Finally, we got a couple balls to find some grass or between the defenders. I’m really proud of the guys for not caving in.’’
Trailing 4-0 after only two innings and 5-3 in the seventh, the Rays’ biggest bats came alive to improve their record to 8-9.
“We got a lot of two out hits from guys we’re going to depend on and lean on all season,’’ Rodriguez said. “This can definitely get us going in the right direction.’’
In addition to Loney’s heroics, Evan Longoria had three singles and reached five times, Wil Myers – mired in a 0-for-14 slump – had three hits, including an RBI single in the sixth to end the night for Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda.
“It feels pretty good,’’ Myers said. “I don’t think I’d had an RBI since the third game of the year. I just got some pitches out over the plate today and I was able to do something with it.
With three pitchers on the disabled list, the Rays turned Friday to 35-year-old lefty Erik Bedard, who was unable to secure a roster spot in spring training and took an assignment to triple-A Durham.
Since the end of spring training, Bedard had only thrown six innings, including two in a relief appearance last week at Cincinnati.
Bedard lasted only 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs – all in the second inning – on six hits. He walked one and struck out three on 73 pitches. Three of those runs came on a bases-clearing double by Scott Sizemore.
Thanks to some stellar relief work from righty Brad Boxberger, who was part of the trade with the Padres for Alex Torres, the Rays were able to stay in the game long enough to get their bats going.
Boxberger struck out Derek Jeter to end the fourth and worked two scoreless innings. He was optioned to Durham after the game with a corresponding move to follow today. But Maddon credited him for the Rays win.
“He’s a really, really major reason why we won that game today. He came in with runners on first and second and gets Jeter to strike out. A big part of the victory goes to him.’’
The Rays tacked on five runs in the eighth – but they paid for it. Yankees reliever Cesar Cabral unintentionally plunked three batters before being ejected by umpire Joe West.
“He just had a hard time throwing the ball over the plate,’’ Maddon said. “There was nothing malicious about what he was doing. I think Joe West did exactly the right thing there.’’
By far, the biggest moment was Loney’s two-run single that gave the Rays their first lead in nearly a week.
“It became more believable,’’ Maddon said. “You have to have the moment where it becomes more believable, that short-term goal victory right there just by driving in those points. The home run by Sean really created breathing room.’’