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Lunch bunch picks winning lineup for manager Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-2 over the Minnesota Twins

ST. PETERSBURG — Joe Maddon is glad he didn't forget to bring his lineup card to the plate Friday. More specifically, the Rays manager carried it with him to the $60-a-dish Tampa Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel.

It was there, with players and front-office members seated at tables, that Maddon asked the attendees to choose the batting order for the game a few hours later against the Twins.

The biggest change was former Armwood High star Matt Joyce being moved up to the third spot in the lineup.

After the luncheon, the Rays feasted on Twins pitching for 13 hits, their second-most this year, while Joyce went 3-for-4 with a double for the second straight night in a 5-2 victory before 15,342 at Tropicana Field.

It was the fourth straight win for the Rays (5-8), who got a gritty performance on the mound by Wade Davis (1-2), who allowed four hits over seven innings and got help from five relievers.

"Today he really politicked his table … to get into the three-hole, and it worked and really paid dividends for us tonight," Maddon said of Joyce, who was among three players at lunch.

"I'm going to have to find another club to consult about tomorrow's lineup. I'll get up early tomorrow morning and go up and down Bayshore (Boulevard) and find somebody to choose tomorrow's lineup for us."

Joyce began the season 1-for-20 but is swinging one of the Rays' hottest bats. Over the past four games, the rightfielder's 9-for-17 (.529) with three doubles. Before Friday, he had batted sixth, seventh or eighth in 10 of his starts. When he heard Maddon asking patrons to fill out the lineup, he wasn't sure if he was serious.

" … Sure enough, he was being serious, and it worked out," Joyce said. "You know Joe."

Joyce wasn't the only player who had success against the Twins and starter Nick Blackburn, who cruised through five shutout innings before being roughed up for three runs and five hits in the sixth.

Leftfielder Sam Fuld went 3-for-4 with a double, third baseman Felipe Lopez had two hits and DH Johnny Damon delivered a two-run single, the third straight game he has driven in the go-ahead run.

Maddon didn't need help to pencil catcher Kelly Shoppach into the lineup. Shoppach has owned Blackburn in his career (8-for-13, three homers) and delivered a two-run homer in the seventh for a 5-1 lead.

"It was a big hit right there," Maddon said. "It was still a pretty close game. … You get that big blow like that and it kind of loosened things up a little bit."

Davis battled but admittedly didn't have his best stuff against the Twins. His fastball mostly topped out at 90 mph, but he had good command and mixed his pitches, walking two with only one strikeout.

"I would've loved for him to throw 96 right out of the shoot," Shoppach said. "But one of the beauties of Wade is his competitive attitude, his grit, really. Those are the things you can't teach."

After the game, Maddon tweeted that Joyce will hit third again today, also saying, "Thank you Tampa Chamber of Commerce."

Rays 5

Twins 2

Lunch bunch picks winning lineup for manager Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-2 over the Minnesota Twins 04/15/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:50pm]
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