Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

B.J. Upton homers twice as Tampa Bay Rays rout Orioles, capping road sweep

Carl Crawford and Pat Burrell wait to greet B.J. Upton as he crosses home after a three-run homer in the third, his first of two.

Associated Press

Carl Crawford and Pat Burrell wait to greet B.J. Upton as he crosses home after a three-run homer in the third, his first of two.

BALTIMORE — As soon as the four-fingered salute came from the Baltimore bench signaling an intentional walk to Carlos Peña with two outs in the third inning, B.J. Upton started getting all kinds of advice.

Before heading to first, Peña told him, "Here we go, B.J., do what you do." From the on-deck circle, Pat Burrell said, "Don't let them do it to you." And from third base, Carl Crawford shouted, "Go get 'em."

"I had three guys at the same time telling me the same thing," Upton said. "So, yeah, it definitely felt pretty good."

Upton's three-run homer then, and the solo shot he added later, had all the Rays feeling that way, sending them on the way to a 9-1 victory that extended their franchise-best start to 6-3, though five of the wins are against the woeful Orioles. It also marked the first time they've won their first three road games of any season and equaled their number of road series sweeps (three or more games) from last year.

With all the Rays talking about the need to get off to a quick start and play better on the road, the early returns were encouraging.

"It means a lot," Peña said. "That's exactly what we wanted to do."

Peña did his part with a three-run homer in the first inning, starting Wednesday's matinee the way he finished Tuesday's marathon, and on consecutive pitches, about 16 hours apart. David Price did, too, improving to 2-0 with a solid seven-inning effort.

But the key to the day was Upton, whose performance will be a pivotal element of whatever success the Rays have or don't have this season. After extensive work this winter and through the spring with new hitting coach Derek Shelton to quicken how he gets his front foot down and hands ready to hit, Upton, while understanding it's early and a work in progress, didn't have much to show for it through eight games, with a .250 average and just two extra-base hits.

"I was getting a little nervous," Upton said. "You put in all that work and don't get any results. But you can't rush it, you've got to let it happen. Hopefully it's starting. Today's a good start."

The two-homer game was just the second in his 522 career games (and his 50th and 51st homers), but the Rays expect there to be many more. They talk often of how fast Upton's hands and bat are; "ultra-quick," manager Joe Maddon said. And how different and how loud the ball sounds coming off his bat; "like one of those firecrackers, it's so short and snappy," Peña said.

Having him healthy, after last season was impacted more than expected by his recovery from left shoulder surgery, and hitting the ball hard to the middle of the field (the homers were to left-center and just right of center), could make a huge difference.

"A productive B.J. makes Carlos a better hitter and a productive B.J. can pretty much turn us on," Maddon said. "He's got that kind of ability."

Upton said that like most hitters, he bristled when the O's walked Peña (with two outs and Crawford on third) and was determined to foil the strategy.

"Pat said, 'Don't let them do that to you,' " Upton said. "So I guess that would be not letting them do it to me right there."

You think?

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

Rays 9

Orioles 1

B.J. Upton homers twice as Tampa Bay Rays rout Orioles, capping road sweep 04/14/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 10:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb made mistakes on back-to-back pitches to the first two Angels hitters Tuesday, allowing homers to Cameron Maybin and Mike Trout, but otherwise gave the Rays another solid outing, working into the eighth and scattering seven hits.

  4. Rays journal: Brad Miller won't return from DL when eligible

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — 2B Brad Miller (left abdominal strain) will not return from the 10-day disabled list Friday as he hoped. While he took ground balls Tuesday, he has yet to resume running.

    Rays second baseman Brad Miller, left, with infielder Tim Beckham, says he’s letting his left abdominal strain “cool down” before testing it by running.
  5. USF baseball rallies to beat Tulane in AAC tournament opener

    College

    CLEARWATER — With Tulane runners on first and second and two out in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday, USF's dugout watched as burly American Athletic Conference co-player of the year Hunter Williams' fly to left went deep.

    USF outfielder Chris Chatfield is congratulated by third-base coach Chris Cates after hitting a three-run homer in the third inning, tying the score at 3.