Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays extend winning streak to five with walkoff win over Angels

ST. PETERSBURG — In just the few days since Brandon Allen walked in the door, his new Rays teammates had taken a liking to him based on his pleasant personality and general demeanor.

Then Thursday afternoon, they really embraced him.

And hugged him, jumped on him, pummeled him and poured beer on him in a celebration that stretched from the field to the clubhouse after his two-run, pinch-hit walkoff homer gave the Rays a 4-3 win, completing a three-game sweep of the Angels and extending their season-high winning streak to five en route to a 12-7 start.

"It was amazing. Everybody wants that moment, and I'm thankful I got it," Allen said. "I felt like I was in the mix already, but this is exciting to finally be initiated, to get the membership card."

The walkoff came about 18 hours after his walk, as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded in the eighth, that delivered the decisive run in Wednesday's 3-2 win. Pretty good for his first two times up since joining the Rays on Saturday, and his first plate appearances since April 7 with the A's.

"Just conversationally, he's made a great impression already," manager Joe Maddon said. "And then to do this, to basically win two games for us two nights in a row, is pretty special."

Allen's blast to right, which went an estimated 431 feet, saved what looked to be a disappointing day before 15,417 at the Trop as rookie starter Matt Moore's improved performance and an early lead seemed to be laid to waste.

"It's all joy right now," Allen, 26, said.

The left-handed batter made himself look good, turning around Jordan Walden's 2-and-2 97-mph fastball for his first hit of the season. Maddon looked good for hitting him for Jose Molina after B.J. Upton singled with one out in the ninth. And the front office looked good for claiming Allen off waivers from Oakland when the Rays didn't seem to have a need.

And he's going to make his mother, Doris, happy as he plans to give her the ball — which he was thankful to get back from a fan, in exchange for a signed bat — from what he said was his first walkoff hit at any level.

"Oh my gosh, I'm so happy for him," DH Luke Scott said. "When you're a guy who's been with a couple teams and you're with a new team, you want to make a good impression, you want to do well."

Allen impressed not only with his power, which the Rays were well aware of, but also his patience, both on Wednesday and again Thursday, numbing himself to the adrenalin surging through his body.

"For him to come in and step up with two huge at-bats in two huge situations, the calmness and the confidence that he has at the plate is really remarkable," outfielder Matt Joyce said. "It speaks a lot to his preparation and his focus; he's very calm. He's one of the nicest guys you're going to meet and talk to. He fits right in with us."

Allen had seen the Rays celebrate after each of his four games with them, but Thursday was his first time in the center of it. After the on-field TV interview and obligatory shaving/whipped cream pie (from Upton), Allen navigated the gauntlet — "I might have bruises," he said — as he entered the clubhouse-turned-club, with the loud music, strobe lights and disco ball, and made his way to the back corner for the ritual of pulling the sometimes-finicky cord to turn on the electronic Captain Morgan sign.

And, he again showed his teammates something.

"He did a great job," Joyce said. "We were really impressed by his ability to slow the game down and really come through with a nice pull in turning the light on."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]ay.com.

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