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Tampa Bay Rays' B.J. Upton continues strong September

ST. PETERSBURG — CF B.J. Upton's September surge at the plate has been one to remember.

Upton had two more hits Monday, including the tying two-run double in the third inning of the Rays' 5-2 win.

In September, he's hitting .348 (32-for-92), his highest single-month average since he hit .362 in July 2007.

"B.J. likes this time of year," manager Joe Maddon said. "B.J. likes playoff baseball. He's done well there in the past and he kind of rises to the occasion, so this does not surprise me."

Upton also appears to like the two hole, as he's hitting .375 the past 21 games he has been in that spot.

Upton said he's just not trying to do too much.

"I don't know what I'm doing, and don't want to know," he said. "I just hope that I can keep doing it."

No worries: RF Matt Joyce, who fouled a pitch off the top of his right foot, was replaced in the ninth. Joyce said X-rays were negative, and he expects to be able to play tonight.

CATCHING ON: Maddon said C Kelly Shoppach starting Monday was "purely a comfort move," for better defense and for how he works with RHP James Shields. But Shoppach also provided some pop, homering for the second straight game for the first time since Aug. 26-27, 2008.

THREE-WAY: As expected, the Rays took the option of playing just one game — albeit on the road — if they end up in a three-way tie with the Red Sox and Angels for the AL wild card. The Rays were the top seed of the three by having the best combined record against the two; in that scenario, the Angels and Red Sox would play Thursday in Boston, and the Rays would visit the winner Friday, with that winner being the AL wild card.

MINOR MATTERS: The Rays announced their minor-league award winners, with LHP Matt Moore named minor-league pitcher of the year and C/OF Stephen Vogt minor-league player of the year.

Moore, 22, who won his first big-league start Thursday in New York, went 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA in a combined 27 starts for Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham.

"To be recognized for something like that, it's definitely an honor," Moore said. "There's been at least two guys in the last two years in this clubhouse that have received this award, so it's definitely pretty special to be recognized for that."

Vogt, 25, led the organization with 105 RBIs in 128 games between Montgomery and Durham. SS Hak-Ju Lee was ranked the organization's best defensive player, INF Tyler Bortnick the organization's best baserunner and RHP Chris Rearick the best relief pitcher.

TICKET TIME: Until midnight tonight, fans can register for a chance to purchase single-game tickets for potential Rays ALDS, ALCS and World Series games at Tropicana Field. Visit raysbaseball.com under the "Tickets" tab. Register once to be entered into random drawings. Fans whose entries are selected through the drawing will be notified by e-mail.

MIscellany: RHP James Shields recorded his major-league-leading 13th pickoff this season. … The Rays have now won 28 consecutive games when scoring five or more. … The local chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America will announce its selected Rays team MVP before tonight's game.

Tampa Bay Rays' B.J. Upton continues strong September 09/26/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 7:31am]
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