Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays homer for club-record 16th straight game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For a team that supposedly doesn't have much power, the Rays have been flexing a lot of muscle, setting a franchise record by homering in 16 consecutive games.

"I've talked about it even from spring training, I thought our power was underestimated or underrated," manager Joe Maddon said. "There's guys in this lineup with power.

"I was more interested in the fact that I thought we could be, like I've talked about, more 'swarming,' because I thought there'd be more contact and less swing-and-miss. And I still believe that is forthcoming, I still believe you're going to see that. And if we could do that and maintain this kind of power production, that could make for a really interesting offense as we get things in gear and get things together."

With three homers Wednesday, including Matt Joyce's third in three games, the Rays have hit 29 during their streak, which are most in the majors since April 15, and that after hitting only four in their first 11 games. The 16-game streak is the longest in the majors this season.

3B Evan Longoria's six homers in that span, entering play Wednesday, were one fewer than Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion for most in the majors. UMP ISSUES: MLB is believed to be nearing the end of its investigation into Sunday's incident and exchange of accusations between LHP David Price and home plate umpire Tom Hallion. Price claimed Hallion cursed at him as he walked off the field, Hallion denied it and called Price "a liar," Price and other Rays tweeted criticisms of Hallion's denial, all potential reasons for discipline. Hallion's crew is on a previously scheduled vacation week.

WEATHER, OR NOT: Today's game seems in serious jeopardy based on a brutal forecast that calls for cold and all-day rain, with a 70 percent chance of rain at gametime (1:10 local) and a forecast temperature of 37 degrees, and a feels-like of 27, with the possibility of some snow.

"Their grounds crew is not very optimistic," Maddon said. "If the weather report is anything close to being factual it's going to be very difficult to play that game."

The Rays, who have to head to Denver at some point today, don't have another series scheduled in Kansas City but now would have to return. The teams have common off days June 3 (when the Rays are between Cleveland and Detroit), July 29 (at the end of a 10-day road trip) and Aug. 26 (between home series).

ALEX'S TURN: After seeing a 2-0 lead turn into a 4-2 deficit in a dizzying nine-pitch span in the sixth inning Tuesday, RHP Alex Cobb wasn't sure what went wrong.

"Walking off the mound I was dumb-founded. I had no idea what was going on, I didn't even feel like I had a chance to catch my breath before six hits and four runs," Cobb said Wednesday. "With a little bit of time to think about it, I didn't attack hard enough with my fastball. It's kind of like if you're in a fight with somebody and you know you have them on the ropes, you don't dance around, you go out there and go for the knockout punch. I think I kind of got away from that."

He does know how miserable it felt to see a game that was "in the palm of my hand" get away. "It's a situation that I expect to never let happen to me again because I've been through it and I never want that feeling again walking off the mound," he said.

MISCELLANY: The Rays last back-to-back homers were by Carlos Peña and Ben Francisco in September. … Rays pitchers had a spirited round of batting practice to prep for the weekend series in Colorado; the Royals didn't participate. … The Rockies announced plans to start LHP Jeff Francis, and RHPs Jon Garland and Tyler Chatwood, but could use ace RHP Jhoulys Chacin, out since April 19 with a mild back strain, Sunday. … Triple-A Durham INF Vince Belnome was named International League batter of the week after hitting .500 (14-for-28) with 11 RBIs.

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