Saturday, February 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Curt Casali homers twice again as Rays pound Price, Tigers (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — The handwritten note was taped to Curt Casali's locker, waiting for him when he got back to the Rays clubhouse after Tuesday's game, starting with NICELY DONE. The text on his phone conveyed a similar message, Nice Job, though with a couple of angry-faced emojis tacked on.

As thrilled as Casali was about hitting two more home runs, and about hitting them off good buddy and fellow Vanderbilt product David Price in the Rays' 10-2 win, he was even more touched that Price was willing to congratulate him for doing so.

"That was pretty cool," Casali said. "That's what type of guy he is. He's one of the best guys I know."

Casali has plenty of Price memories, thrilled as a wide-eyed high school senior to be hosted by him during a recruiting visit to Vanderbilt, pumped up to get to work out with him during offseasons in Nashville, excited once they were reunited with the Rays last July to get to catch him in a big-league game.

But nothing will top Tuesday, when Casali hit a two-run homer in the fourth and a solo homer in the sixth then got a curtain call from the Trop crowd of 16,326, with Price stepping off the mound so Casali could acknowledge the fans.

"To do it off him, with what he's accomplished in his career, that was definitely special for me," Casali said.

Historical as well, as Casali also hit two homers in Monday's game.

That made him the first rookie catcher in major-league history to have back-to-back multi-homer games, topping Kenji Johjima, who did so in back-to-back starts (with a game in between) for Seattle in June 2006.

Casali also became the first catcher overall to do so since Mike Napoli for Texas in September 2011, and just the second Rays player to do so, joining Greg Vaughn, who did so in 2002.

"For me to have the week I'm having is really special to me," Casali said.

Price — pitching as the subject of trade speculation again, with the Dodgers among teams watching him — knew so as well, as he lasted only six innings in a disappointing second start against the Rays.

"I told him not to hit any more homers off me before the game, and he hit two," Price said. "Good for Curt. He's been swinging the bat extremely well this year, and he works hard, so I appreciate that."

Casali, though, may pay a price for his success. "He's going to need someone else to play golf with in the offseason," Price said.

Casali wasn't the whole story as Jake Odorizzi, armed with what may have been his best stuff all year, gave the Rays six solid innings, Evan Longoria homered and Tim Beckham had four RBIs as the Rays got back to .500 at 51-51.

But Casali was definitely the top story.

"You might say he's the best player on the planet the last two days," Odorizzi said.

     
           
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