Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Carlos Peña's first homer swings momentum for Tampa Bay Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Carlos Peña couldn't have picked a better time for his first homer of the season.

With the Yankees scoring two runs in the top of the fourth to take the lead, Peña answered in the bottom half with a two-run blast, ripping the momentum back from the defending world champions with one swing of the bat. The Rays scored three more runs in the inning to take the lead for good in a 9-3 win.

"That was huge," 2B Sean Rodriguez said. "Most say home runs are a rally killer. That was a rally starter. It got us going. And coming from him, he's the heart and soul of the team."

Peña hadn't homered since Sept. 1, his season cut short six days later when he got hit by a CC Sabathia pitch that broke two fingers in his left hand. (Peña is not scheduled to be in the starting lineup today against Sabathia.) But the Rays first baseman feels like he has carried over the same solid approach he had at the plate at the end of last season, when he hit .333 in his final 19 games.

Peña also has more homers against the Yankees (15) since 2007 than any other player.

"I've got so much room for improvement," he said. "So I'm going to keep working at it."

tough texan: RHP Jeff Niemann was still stiff and sore one day after getting struck on the right shoulder by a line drive.

But Niemann said he has been encouraged by his progress and is still hopeful he'll make his next scheduled start, Tuesday in Baltimore. He plans to play catch today and push his between-starts bullpen session back to Sunday, when the Rays will have a better idea of whether he'll be able to go.

Niemann was pulled in the second inning Thursday after getting hit by a ball off Miguel Tejada's bat.

"It's hard to tell," manager Joe Maddon said. "He could feel great (today), or he could feel more sore. … We'll see."

J.P. UPDATE: LHP J.P. Howell threw Friday but gently as the ball was in a sock, the first step of his rehab from shoulder weakness. The reliever said he will play catch from 45 feet today.

Howell said he definitely felt stronger and in his opinion was "ahead of schedule." But he also figured it would still be mid to late May before he would be back.

"I want to throw normal. I want to get out there and chuck it," Howell said. "Then you can really know where you're at."

GLOVE LOVE: 3B Evan Longoria gets lots of stuff, but he'll be genuinely thrilled to receive his Gold Glove Award before today's game.

"It's a beautiful trophy," he said. "I'm excited to put it in my house. It's one of my favorites."

Longoria often talks about the value of defense in his overall game: "The hitting's not always going to be there, but if you focus on your defense, it should always be there."

His .970 fielding percentage (13 errors) was second among AL third baseman (Baltimore's Melvin Mora was .971), as were his 302 assists. He led all third basemen by starting 43 double plays.

WADIN' IN: Having watched the other four starters take their turns, Wade Davis is eager just to finally have the chance to pitch today.

Getting to do so against the Yankees and on national TV makes it even better.

"It should be fun," Davis said. "Definitely been champing at the bit to get out there."

Carlos Peña's first homer swings momentum for Tampa Bay Rays 04/09/10 [Last modified: Saturday, April 10, 2010 12:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi admitted he probably should have gone on the DL sooner than late July for the back stiffness that was keeping him from throwing the ball where he wanted to. He has since found an impressive groove, with another strong outing Saturday.

  4. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-N.C. State


    RB Cam Akers still looks like a former high school quarterback at times. His first two touches (30 yards) were special, but the freshman juked instead of powering ahead on his third (an unsuccessful third-and-1 rush). That's why the Seminoles are easing him in, as they did with Dalvin Cook three years ago.

    Running back Cam Akers carries for a first down during the third quarter as FSU eases the freshman into the college game.
  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.