Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Fuld hits first homer in more than two years

ST. PETERSBURG — To make what had been a 10-3 blowout interesting by rallying and getting the tying run to the plate in the ninth was an unexpected enough feat by the Rays on Sunday.

Making it more surprising was that the key hit that got them rolling was a two-run homer by Sam Fuld, his first in more than two years.

"That's a long time," Fuld acknowledged.

Actually, it really wasn't, since between injuries and limited playing time he had only 312 at-bats in between. But it's always an event when the smallest guy on the team (listed at 5-10) homers, and even more so because he was the only Rays position player without one this season, and he had only a .185 average.

"At this point, I was more worried about getting hits rather than home runs, I wanted to crawl before I walked," Fuld said. "Yeah, this was nice. (C Jose) Lobaton and I talked about it a lot and when he got his (first one) in Chicago, which was a long time ago, the pressure was on me to get on the board."

It was the fifth big-league homer for Fuld, who averaged about four per minor-league season, and his second off a lefty, first Doug Davis in 2009, then Sunday off Brian Matusz. Plus, Fuld's parents were down from New Hampshire.

Lobaton's two-out pinch-hit single scored Fuld in the ninth to get the Rays within 10-7 with two men on and Evan Longoria on deck, but Kelly Johnson popped out for the final out.

BAD PLAY: One of the sloppiest moments came when C Jose Molina allowed a throw home to go through his legs, and with LHP Matt Moore failing to back up, a runner scored and another moved up. "That ball's got to be blocked coming on and the pitcher's got to be behind (the play)," manager Joe Maddon said.

GOOD PLAY: RF Matt Joyce had the defensive highlight, a full-speed run and all-out dive to make a catch just inside the foul line. "That was all about effort," Maddon said. "He just wanted it, and he got to it."

LOCKED IN: RHP Alex Cobb, the Rays' most consistent starter, pitches tonight after a tremendous outing in Detroit but, in another sign of his maturity, said it's no different than coming off a rough start. "One thing that helped me a lot this year is that regardless of what happened in my last outing, I kind of restart my first day (afterward)," Cobb said. "I'm not riding the wave anymore, one way or the other."

MISCELLANY: Evan Longoria was the DH, the fourth time this season in a scheduled move by Maddon to get him off his feet and preserve his health. … 2B Ben Zobrist hit his first home run since May 1, ending a 31-game drought. … LHP David Price, working his way back from a mid May triceps strain, is scheduled for his second bullpen session today, targeting a late June/early July return. … CF Desmond Jennings was caught stealing for an AL-high sixth time, and in only 13 attempts. He also has been picked off three times. … Attendance was 19,921. … Rays pitchers allowed seven doubles, their most since June 26, 2011, at Houston. … Maddon said it felt "outstanding" to take two of three from the Orioles. … Luke Scott made his first appearance of the season at first base.

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