Saturday, April 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays Tales: Oddest home runs in Tampa Bay Rays history

All things considered — where, when, who against, how and, most dramatically, what happened after he hit it — Matt Joyce's home run Wednesday will go down as one of the most interesting, weird and odd in Rays history. And perhaps beyond. "It's probably the oddest," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's even somewhat odder than the (Kirk) Gibson kind of thing because he actually stood on his feet and then limped around the bases. This guy (Joyce) fell down and then limped and hit a three-run homer. So it really ranks high." That said, here are some other unusual blasts from the past the Rays have been a part of to rival Joyce's rise and fall:

A true first: Esteban Yan had pitched in 132 big-league games without batting, so, naturally, when he came to the plate for the first time, June 4, 2000, at New York's Shea Stadium, he swung at the first pitch he saw from Bobby Jones — and knocked it over the leftfield fence.

And another: OF Brandon Guyer also homered in his first plate appearance, May 6, 2011, and against his hometown Orioles. Making it an even better story, his sportscaster wife, Lindsay Murphy, was racing to the game from her Washington, D.C., station but was only pulling into the parking lot when he hit the ball out.

Party time: There have been two massive home runs that crashed the tbt* Party Deck above leftfield, a 478-foot shot by Vinny Castilla (4-4-01, vs. Boston) and a 473-footer by Evan Longoria (4-6-10, vs. Baltimore). In between: a 474-foot shot by Jonny Gomes off the roof of the Batter's Eye restaurant, 7-9-05.

A 3K moment: Wade Boggs went into play Aug. 7, 1999, three hits from the historic 3,000 and, after singling twice, went deep off Cleveland's Chris Haney, a golden seat in Trop section 144 marking where it landed. Boggs was the only player to homer for No. 3,000 until Yankees SS Derek Jeter did it last year — and the Rays saw that, too, from the other side as David Price gave it up.

Pinch me: His flight to Boston delayed after his late 2008 promotion, Dan Johnson was scratched from the starting lineup. Instead, he was sent up to pinch-hit in the ninth against Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon on Sept. 9, and, stunningly, hit a tying homer. (You may have heard, he did something similar in the ninth inning of Game 162 last September.)

And me: 1B Travis Lee joined a very short list on Aug. 14, 2005, in Cleveland when he delivered a ninth-inning pinch-hit homer that gave the Rays a 1-0 win. That was only the third 1-0 game in MLB history decided by a pinch-hit homer. (Bonus: The others were hit by Bill Taylor, 1954 Giants, and Candy Maldonado, 1985 Dodgers).

Something fishy: Tampa's Luis Gonzalez was already in the record books for hitting the first homer at the Trop, for Detroit in the March 31, 1998, inaugural game. But he made a bigger splash June 24, 2007, hitting what is still the only homer to land in the rays tank beyond right-centerfield.

A 'walk' in the park: It was more like a mad dash when INF Rey Sanchez hit a "walkoff" inside-the-park home run in the 10th inning to beat the Rockies 8-7 on June 11, 2004. Plus, it was Sanchez's first homer in two-plus years.

Go to the video: The Rays were on the wrong side for the Sept. 4, 2008, first official use of instant replay, as the umps historically went to the video to confirm their call that Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez's homer over the Trop's leftfield foul pole was fair. They came out ahead two weeks later in the first-ever instant replay reversal, also at the Trop, as the umps first awarded Carlos Peña a double based on fan interference, then checked the video and changed it to a home run.

Let's do the time warp

Joyce's home-run "trot" was, no surprise, the slowest of the season so far, at 29.38 seconds, according to the odd-but-interesting tatertrottracker.com website. But there were slower, healthier, ones last year:

Slowest trots, 2011-12

Victor Martinez, 29.91, Sept. 7, 2011

David Ortiz, 29.66, June 12, 2011

Matt Joyce, 29.38, May 9, 2012

David Ortiz, 29.35, July 27, 2011

Russell Branyan, 29.15, Aug. 11, 2011

Pat Burrell, 29.03, April 11, 2011

Chipper Jones, 28.97, May 2, 2012

Rays rumblings

Baseball America's first mock look at the June draft has the Rays using the No. 25 pick on RHP Ty Hensley, a 6-foot-5 right-hander from Edmond, Okla. … There's chatter in the clubhouse that 3B Evan Longoria could be well ahead of schedule in recovering from his torn left hamstring. … There's probably a sound business reason, but it seems odd when the Rays use the radio broadcasts to run ads and promote parties to get fans to instead watch on TV. … First, Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long suggested the Rays got lucky with their defensive shifts working, then their TV guys complained Rays infielders were distracting their hitters by moving just before the pitch. … Now 31, and three seasons removed from the majors, ex-Rays RHP Seth McClung is trying another comeback, working as the No. 5 starter for the Brewers' Triple-A Nashville team, 0-3, 6.00 thus far.

Got a minute? Will Rhymes

Something you're scared of? Snakes.

Late-night snack? Chocolate milk. Like a little kid.

Favorite TV show? Mad Men.

Band you'd want to be on stage with? There's a lot — The National, or Arcade Fire.

Celebrity crush? Scarlett Johansson or Jenny Lewis.

Comments
Rays Tales: How low can this team go compared to those Devil Rays days?

Rays Tales: How low can this team go compared to those Devil Rays days?

When the Rays, in the opening weekend of their 20th anniversary celebration season, brought back and honored the inaugural 1998 Devil Rays squad, it got us thinking unexpected thoughts, such as which was a better team:The first one, or the current on...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Twins, with a familiar look

For starters: Rays vs. Twins, with a familiar look

UPDATE, 4:17: CF Kevin Kiermaier was back at the Trop, and at one point on the field with a glove on his left hand and protective wrapping on his right, the day after surgery to repair a torn UCL in his right thumb. He said the surgery went "as good ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays will go forth with Chirinos as fourth starter

Rays will go forth with Chirinos as fourth starter

The Rays have made it official – or as official as things can be with them – in naming RHP Yonny Chirinos as the fourth starter in their rotation.The Rays had been using three, and two "Bullpen Day" slots when playing five straight days.B...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Archerís sparkling start precedes surreal finish

Archerís sparkling start precedes surreal finish

By now, we presume you've had a few hours to digest the Rays' improbable 10-inning triumph Friday night.So instead of rehashing the whole bizarre body of work, how 'bout a closer look at the workmanship. Specifically, Chris Archer's.Partially lost in...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Now Batting in Double A: Biggio, Bichette and Guerrero

Now Batting in Double A: Biggio, Bichette and Guerrero

HARTFORD, Conn. — Craig Breslow is 37 years old, with a dozen years of experience as a left-handed reliever in the major leagues. He is pitching now for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, just getting to know his teammates. In their openin...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

ST. PETERSBURG — Roughly four hours before taking the field against his former team Friday, Rays outfielder Denard Span spoke admirably about the Minnesota Twins, their organization in general, even hometown icon Joe Mauer.But business is busin...
Published: 04/20/18
Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

ST. PETERSBURG — For a change, the physically snake-bitten Rays got some vigor, versatility and even a veteran presence back in their lineup  when INF Brad Miller was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list.To make room, they DFA'd INF/OF...
Published: 04/20/18
Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

TAMPA ó Private developers would bear much of the cost of a new Rays stadium in Ybor City under a plan Hillsborough County officials are putting together.Developers would benefit by cashing in on commercial, retail and other construction around a ne...
Published: 04/20/18
For starters: Rays vs. Twins, 7:10 p.m.

For starters: Rays vs. Twins, 7:10 p.m.

Tonight's Rays lineup against the Twins. Brad Miller back in the lineup following his DL stint (left groin strain). First pitch at 7:10 p.m.LF Denard SpanDH C.J. CronRF Carlos Gomez1B Brad Miller3B Daniel Robertson2B Joey WendleC Wilson RamosCF Malle...
Published: 04/20/18
Rays DFA Brandon Snyder to activate Brad Miller

Rays DFA Brandon Snyder to activate Brad Miller

The Rays activated INF Brad Miller off the DL for Friday's game.Miller had been out 11 days due to a groin strain.To make room on the roster, they DFA'd INF/OF Brandon Snyder, who was called up on Tuesday.
Published: 04/20/18