Thursday, May 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays stop Jays' winning streak at 11 games

ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly five hours before making his home debut, Wil Myers stepped onto the Tropicana Field turf and soaked it all in.

The dome was still a bit dark, but the Rays' touted rookie outfielder, dressed in a T-shirt and shorts with his hat flipped backward, took a photo of the field as a memento "just to have."

And when the lights shined bright on him Monday night, the 22-year-old made sure it was a day he wouldn't soon forget. Myers delivered a mammoth 422-foot homer in his first at-bat, part of the Rays' back-to-back-to-back blasts that keyed a 4-1 victory over the red-hot Blue Jays.

Myers received a standing ovation from the 11,407 fans, who summoned him out for his first career curtain call.

"I wasn't sure what really to do," Myers said with a smile. "I heard everybody cheering, so I thought that might be my cue to go out there. It was really cool."

In what has been a special first week in the big leagues, Myers has impressed manager Joe Maddon and teammates for his complete game and calmness, how he never seems overwhelmed by the moment. Having already hit a grand slam in Yankee Stadium, Myers created another iconic individual memory in club history.

"The highlight is always going to be the playoffs and the World Series," Maddon said. "But to see a young man come in like that and do that in his first at-bat, I thought it was outstanding."

The Rays' three homers in the second were more than enough for right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who pitched seven one-hit innings to help snap Toronto's 11-game winning streak. It was the second time the Rays (40-37) hit back-to-back-to-back homers but the first time at the Trop. Tampa Bay also did it June 9, 2008, in Anaheim, and Myers said he has been part of one before in the Arizona Fall League in 2011.

This time, it was James Loney, who started it off with a solo shot to right-center, his ninth of the season. That brought up Myers, who received a large ovation in his first home at-bat as his walkup song, Motley Crue's Kickstart My Heart, played. Myers said he was more excited than nervous heading into his home debut, mostly concerned with getting used to the park's weird catwalks. He's still getting a feel for that, taking several fly balls before the game and getting replaced defensively in the ninth, but he seemed to make a seamless transition to the majors.

"It's the same game I've played all my life," Myers said. "It's not really any different."

But Maddon said the sound that comes off Myers' bat is definitely different, and it was on the 1-and-2 fastball from Esmil Rogers that he crushed over the centerfield fence and hit below the screen of the restaurant. His teammates were pumped, mobbing him in the dugout.

Fans were still cheering when, three pitches later, the 5-foot-10 Fuld delivered the most unlikely of the three straight homers. Fuld, who hit his second homer of the season, got to light the Captain Morgan lamp postgame.

"It happened so quick," Fuld said. "By the time it got to me after Wil's home run, the place was going crazy. … I almost stepped out and said, 'Can I wait until the strobe lights go off?' "

Myers, who took a cab to the park as he's staying in a hotel while he finds a place to live, looked at home Monday, certainly showing he knows how to make an entrance.

"The sky is the limit for him," Matt Joyce said. "You can just tell he has all the tools that it takes to be a superstar."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

 
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