Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Slumping B.J. Upton, Dioner Navarro get key hits as Tampa Bay Rays beat Orioles

ST. PETERSBURG — Both Dioner Navarro and B.J. Upton entered Tuesday's game frustrated by hitting slumps.

But Navarro said manager Joe Maddon "gave me that extra push" a couple days earlier in a confidence-building meeting.

Upton admitted his struggles in his new leadoff spot weighed on him, but Maddon told him, "Keep swinging."

Maddon has stuck with Navarro and Upton, wanting to show patience and confidence.

And in Tuesday afternoon's 6-3 win over the Orioles, they both rewarded his faith.

Upton and Navarro came through with back-to-back two-out hits in the three-run, seventh-inning rally, lifting the Rays to a come-from-behind victory in front of 13,174 at Tropicana Field.

Upton's double off previously baffling Koji Uehara delivered the go-ahead run and snapped a careerlong 0-for-20 slump, lifting "definitely a little bit of weight off my shoulders."

"It's been a long time coming," Upton said. "Obviously the way we're playing right now is not up to anybody's standards. I think everyone in the clubhouse believes we can do better. I just feel like I haven't been contributing offensively, and to finally do something to bring this team up, it feels good."

With the Rays (12-16) having won four of six on the home-stand, Maddon said, "We're starting to look more like us." Tampa Bay is still 61/2 games back in the AL East, and Maddon admits "we've been humbled a bit."

He said clutch hits like Tuesday's could do a world of good for both Upton's and Navarro's confidence.

"There may be a little more impact because, to a certain extent, you feel like you've been letting the team down," Maddon said. "Everybody feels that way when you're not doing what you think you can do. To really step up in that moment, both of those guys, I'm sure they're feeling pretty good about themselves."

So is right-hander Matt Garza (3-2), who held the Orioles to three runs (on two homers) in eight innings.

Navarro, who caught Garza for just the second time this season, said, "I told myself, 'This was the biggest game of the season, to prove to myself, to prove to everybody that we can work on the same page.' "

Navarro did just that and came through with his bat in the seventh. Jason Bartlett and Akinori Iwamura led off with singles, Iwamura's on a bunt, bringing up Navarro, who broke an 0-for-11 skid with a double the inning before. If Bartlett hadn't gotten picked off second, Navarro's single could have delivered the go-ahead run.

Instead, it set up Upton's huge hit. He fell behind 0-and-2 but fouled off a pitch before reaching out and pulling a Uehara splitter down the leftfield line for a double, a hit he said he hopes "can catapult me and carry me the rest of the season."

Upton battling in that at-bat was an example of why Maddon hasn't moved him from the top of the order despite his .157 average. And he said as Upton's and Navarro's confidence grows, "you'll see a more familiar player."

"I think it's a new beginning," Navarro said. "It's a new start."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com

Slumping B.J. Upton, Dioner Navarro get key hits as Tampa Bay Rays beat Orioles 05/05/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 5, 2009 11:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Kentucky recruit, former Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox among top prospects for 2018 NBA Draft

    Preps

    Less than 24 hours after the NBA Draft, analysts have already begun looking ahead to 2018.

    Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox finishes a layup during the McDonald's All-American game in March at the United Center in Chicago. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Illinois is recruiting a 10-year-old. Where will Lovie Smith be by the time the kid can sign?

    Blogs

    Today in ridiculous recruiting news, Lovie Smith's Illinois football team offered a scholarship to a 10-year-old.

  3. Rays series preview: Who are the Orioles?

    Blogs

    After an off day Thursday, the Rays remain at Tropicana Field for a three-game series against the AL East rival Orioles. Here's the information you need to know about Baltimore before the action kicks off.

    Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman, left, has posted the highest ERA of his career this season, while catcher Welington Castillo, center, has slumped recently.
  4. Harmeling first woman to receive lifetime honor at Sneaker Soiree in Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the last quarter-century, she has combined passion and meticulousness to keep the Gasparilla Distance Classic humming and evolving. Indefatigable and detailed, Susan Harmeling braces for every race-weekend contingency.

    Susan Harmeling gives a speech after accepting an award  during the annual Sneaker Soiree, at TPepin's Hospitality Centre, Thursday, June 22, 2017.
  5. Morning after off day: Rays ready for slumping O's

    Blogs

    The Rays will attempt tonight to do what so far has been impossible this season: climb four games above .500.

    The Rays expect Evan Longoria to be back in the lineup for tonight's game.