Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)


Rays' Iwamura hitting too well to rest

OAKLAND, Calif. — Akinori Iwamura has been too hot to get a day off.

Manager Joe Maddon has several times postponed a planned day off for Iwamura, who has been the American League's most prolific hitter in May.

Iwamura's 28 hits (going into play Monday) were the most of any AL hitter, trailing only Lance Berkman's major-league-leading 35 for Houston.

"He's really hitting the ball well right now," Maddon said. "When he gets hot, he gets super hot. And he's kind of there right now."

The issue with Iwamura has been getting him to hit the ball in the air less and on the ground or on a line more. And the message has gotten through.

"Line drives everywhere," Maddon said. "Hard, two-strike line drives, not just putting the ball in play."

As if the stats weren't proof enough, Maddon said he can tell just by watching that Iwamura — who raised his average from .202 to .276 in three weeks (hitting .382, 28-for-72, in 16 games) — is on his game.

"There's a lot of confidence," he said. "There's just a bounce in his step. I know he's feeling good about it."

Going into the final 10 games of the month, Iwamura needs 12 hits to break the Rays team record of 36, by Fred McGriff in 1999.

And, Maddon said, he might get Wednesday off.

Glove love: Rookie 3B Evan Longoria has had some struggles at the plate, which makes his strong defensive showing even more impressive.

Going into play Monday, Longoria led all AL third basemen with a .979 fielding percentage, having made just two errors in 96 chances. He ranks second with a hand in nine double plays (despite missing the first 10 games) and is in the top five in the sabermetric categories of range factor and zone rating.

Feeling better: SS Jason Bartlett was back in the lineup after missing Sunday's game due to effects of a 24-hour flulike bug that had been going through the clubhouse. Most of the coaches had it, but Bartlett was the only player. "We might be past the worst part of it," Maddon said. "I've heard nothing new."

J.P. duty: LHP J.P. Howell has been in the majors for parts of four seasons, but this is the first time he has gotten to play in Oakland, about 90 minutes from where he grew up outside Sacramento. "Three times I've got sent down right before we came out here," Howell said.

He'll have friends and relatives on hand all three days, but none more special than his grandmother. Margaret Olbrantz turned 85 on Monday but will wait to attend Wednesday's matinee. "The other games are way past her bedtime," Howell said.

Go-go Gomes: Jonny Gomes is in line for his first back-to-back starts since May 1-2 and said a better understanding of his limited role will allow him to have a better approach.

"I can't do it like these are my only four at-bats of the week like I did earlier in the year, swinging at 3-0 pitches, swinging hard in hitters' counts instead of letting myself get deep (in the count) and take my walks and be patient," he said. "It's kinda hard knowing those might be the last four at-bats for a while, so you want to hit a home run every at-bat."

Maddon said Gomes would play tonight and Wednesday and could be in rightfield one day with Cliff Floyd at DH.

Miscellany: INF Andy Cannizaro cleared waivers and rejoined Triple-A Durham. … Maddon said before Monday's game that he was trying to find an opportunity to use long reliever Jason Hammel, who hadn't pitched in 10 days since May 7. … The Rays' .360 average in the St. Louis series was the highest of any AL club. … Maddon was thrilled that he got to meet Cardinals great Stan Musial before Sunday's festivities in St. Louis: "Obviously a legend beyond words."

Rays' Iwamura hitting too well to rest 05/19/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 20, 2008 4:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: 5 mistakes that led to loss to Blue Jays


    We've already documented elsewhere what the Rays didn't do, how they failed to take advantage of a prime opportunity to win Wednesday's game, getting just one run after loading the bases in the seventh with one out and three of …

    Jake Faria make too many mistakes, the failure to execute costing him repeatedly.
  2. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too lengthy. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes …

    Associated Press
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    You wonder if the scouting reports and/or workload are catching up to rookie RHP Jake Faria. The bottom line wasn't bad again, three runs in 51/3 innings, but he's having to work harder to get there.

  4. Rays journal: Chris Archer eager for eventful final stretch

    The Heater

    TORONTO — RHP Chris Archer takes the mound today for the Rays as they head into the final 40 games of the season with little margin for error as they battle for an American League playoff spot.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) takes a moment on the mound in the second inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 6, 2017.
  5. Tim Tebow's slump continues, as does fan support


    CLEARWATER — On July 29, playing against the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Tim Tebow smacked a mammoth three-run homer, helping the St. Lucie Mets cruise to a 10-3 victory at Charlotte Sports Park.

    St. Lucie’s Tim Tebow, shown Monday at Spectrum Field, struggled at the plate Wednesday against the Threshers.