Sunday, July 15, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Mahtook ends 0-for-34 slump with key hit for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — LF Mikie Mahtook took early batting practice every day this week, hoping to shake his career-long slump that was getting closer by the game to Luke Scott's Rays-record 0-for-41 slide in 2012.

Mahtook wasn't aware of that mark and didn't want to know how close he'd come Thursday afternoon, after he snapped his 0-for-34 skid with an RBI double in the seventh inning for what proved to be the winning run in the Rays' 2-1 victory against the Red Sox.

"It's nice that I don't have that record on the books," Mahtook said.

Mahtook's last hit had been Aug. 9 at Toronto. He was 0-for-21 during the homestand when he stepped in against Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz after Steven Souza Jr. singled to start the seventh. Mahtook hit a sinking line drive to left-center and Souza hustled all the way home. A relieved Mahtook clapped and looked toward the heavens after sliding into second.

"You go in every day expecting to get hits and expecting to do well," he said. "Day after day it just kind of gets on you. Finally, to break through like that was nice. It was a relief, but it was more of me feeling good about all the work that I put in leading up to it to finally see the results."

Mahtook's slump was the fourth longest in team history. Jose Cruz Jr. was 0-for-37 in 2004 and Josh Wilson was 0-for-35 in 2007.

Mahtook also contributed defensively when he threw out RF Mookie Betts at second to end the eighth. Betts tried to stretch a single down the leftfield line into a double.

"Mikie's been wearing it pretty tough lately," manager Kevin Cash said. "It was good to see a big smile on his face today."

ODO BEING ODO: RHP Jake Odorizzi won for the sixth time in eight starts since the All-Star Break and lowered his second half ERA to an AL-low 1.59 after Thursday's win.

His six-game winning streak matches RHP Matt Andriese for the longest this season by a Rays starter.

Odorizzi allowed a run in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Betts. He walked DH Hanley Ramirez to load the bases with one out then, after a visit by pitching coach Jim Hickey, got Jackie Bradley Jr. to hit into a double play.

"I have to give credit to Hick," Odorizzi said. "He said 'First-pitch change-up, double play.' And that's exactly what we did."

30 FOR LONGORIA: 3B Evan Longoria was pleased to reach 30 home runs for the fourth time in his career, doing so Wednesday with an eighth-inning homer.

"There's a lot more home runs being hit this year but I don't think there is going to be a huge list of players that will hit 30," Longoria said. "It's a cool number. It's a number I'm very proud of at this point and something that I can go and build on and see what kind of special year I can end up having."

NOTEWORTHY: 1B Brad Miller had 11 RBIs during the 10-game homestand. His batting .304/.382/.644 with 31 RBI since the All-Star break. … SS Matt Duffy's fourth inning double was his first extra-base hit since joining the team. … The Rays were 7-3 on the homestand, their best mark during a 10-game homestand since going 9-1 in July 2013. … They improved 10-19 in one-run games. … The bullpen ended the series with 11 scoreless innings. It has a 2.69 ERA since the All-Star break. … UTL Nick Franklin (concussion) is scheduled to play tonight for Charlotte and is expected to join the Rays on Saturday in Houston.

 
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