Sunday, January 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Matt Joyce ties club marks in huge game

BALTIMORE — OF Matt Joyce had no reason to see this coming.

He hadn't homered in more than a month, and he'd had only four hits over the past 12 days.

Then he went out Sunday and blasted two homers as he tied Rays records with five hits in the game and 12 total bases. He knocked in four runs and scored three in the 12-7 win over the Orioles.

"You really don't have very many days like that," the Brandon native said, "so it's nice to have one of those days and enjoy it."

Joyce came up a sixth time with a chance for two feats: any hit would have broken the team mark done six times previously, and a triple would have given him the first cycle of his pro career. And after seeing Cole Figueroa and Ben Zobrist swing at the first pitches they saw from Tommy Hunter, he told himself to be patient.

But, he said, "I knew he was going to throw a fastball right down the middle and just couldn't help myself."

He grounded out, but he ended the 39-game homer drought (his second longest), he set a career high and a team record for hits, and the Rays won.

"I'll take that any day of the week," he said.

ALEX THE BETTER: RHP Alex Cobb's line after his five-inning start didn't look very good, as he allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits while throwing 82 pitches.

But he shrugged off several of the hits as ground balls that went where infielders weren't, and he said he felt much better in gaining the consistency in his delivery and approach he has been seeking, especially in the fifth inning.

"All I'm worried about right now is getting back to that feeling I had earlier in the year and last year, being more aggressive and attacking hitters," he said. "I took a lot of steps forward."

NEW YORK STATE OF MIND: RHP Chris Archer takes the mound tonight in New York with a very simple reference point for the last time he started at Yankee Stadium: "The best game I've ever thrown in my life."

The two-hitter in a 1-0 win July 27 is the standard by which Archer measures his starts. "Since that point, I know what I'm capable of and I'm striving to do that every night out," he said.

Archer said he has grown since. "I think I learn from my mistakes a lot better, I'm more conscious of what I do on the mound, I don't have as many big innings," he said.

ESCOBAR UPDATE: SS Yunel Escobar made about 40 throws at up to 90 feet and took some swings, and he told the Rays that the sore right shoulder that has kept him out of action since leaving Tuesday's game felt better.

Better enough that manager Joe Maddon said they will now wait until today — and after he goes through a full workout — to decide whether to put him on the disabled list.

"He's going to go full gorilla (today). He's going to go out and do his ground balls, take BP and throw on the field at Yankee Stadium," Maddon said. "He felt better (Sunday), so that's why we didn't make any movement. I think (today) truly is the tell-tale sign. He was smiling easily after the game, so I'm thinking he's swinging better."

HELLICKSON UPDATE: RHP Jeremy Hellickson played catch at the Trop with no further issues with his elbow, having left Friday's rehab start at Triple-A Durham after three innings when feeling what the team said was "minor discomfort." He will throw a bullpen session today and if all is well presumably make another rehab start this week.

MISCELLANY: Maddon challenged and got a replay reversal on a sixth-inning safe call at first base, improving to 10-18. … Orioles TV analyst Rick Dempsey, the former big-league C, said on the MASN pregame show that rookie OF Kevin Kiermaier's Saturday home run "sounded funny" and the O's should have checked his bat.

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