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)

Tampa Bay Rays' Matt Joyce bounces back from four-strikeout performance

Matt Joyce high-fives Ben Zobrist after putting the Rays up 4-0 in the third inning with a long home run to right.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Matt Joyce high-fives Ben Zobrist after putting the Rays up 4-0 in the third inning with a long home run to right.

ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon said one reason he put outfielder Matt Joyce in the cleanup spot Saturday was to pump him up after a rough opening day, when he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

Joyce did gain some confidence but admitted he was surprised. "I wonder if he's a little crazy," he said, smiling.

But the move couldn't have worked out any better as Joyce picked up two hits, including a homer, and three RBIs in the Rays' 8-6 win over the Yankees.

"Joe has a way of kind of picking the right game at the right time," Joyce said. "I was excited to take the challenge and step into that place and try to come up for the team."

Joyce's frustrating Friday came against All-Star left-hander CC Sabathia. Maddon said Joyce, an All-Star last year, is one of the league's best at hitting right-handers (.290 last season). And Maddon figured slotting him in the heart of the order against right-hander Hiroki Kuroda would balance out the lineup.

"Matt had a nice day," Maddon said.

Joyce began with a good plate appearance as he worked a two-out walk in the first, then scored on Luke Scott's single. In the third, Joyce ripped Kuroda's first pitch — a curveball — into the rightfield seats for a solo homer.

"I was really trying to slow myself down 'cause I was trying to do too much," Joyce said. "I focused on really seeing the ball instead of trying to crush it."

The former Armwood High standout helped the Rays add some insurance in the seventh, after Evan Longoria's two-run homer was overturned via replay and called a double, sending Carlos Peña to third. Joyce, facing left-hander Clay Rapada, worked a 2-and-0 count before lifting a bloop single to left, scoring both to make it 8-2.

"I did what I wanted to do, I had a plan of saying I'm not going to get beat, and I'm going to put a ball in play, no matter what," Joyce said. "And that's exactly what happened."

As for where Joyce will hit today, he said it's anyone's guess.

"Who knows, leadoff?" he said. "You never know."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

Tampa Bay Rays' Matt Joyce bounces back from four-strikeout performance 04/07/12 [Last modified: Sunday, April 8, 2012 12:08am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Kids still playing for all the marbles — literally

    Human Interest

    In this world of pompous athletes, overbearing coaches, money-grubbing owners and a win-at-all-costs mindset, it's easy to become jaded.

    Eli Murphy, right, leans in to give Sierra Ricci the traditional king and queen kiss at the National Marbles Championship in Wildwood, N.J. Both of Allegheny County Pa., they won the girls and boys championship of the 94th annual National Marbles Tournament. [Associated Press]
  2. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  3. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  4. Lightning journal: Plans set for 25th anniversary season

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — The Lightning revealed some of its plans for its 25th anniversary season Friday, including a ceremony to honor the 2004 Stanley Cup team.

    John Tortorella, in Tampa in 2014 for the 10-year Stanley Cup win party, will return next season for the team’s anniversary event.
  5. Rays designate catcher Derek Norris for assignment

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — C Derek Norris tied a career-high with three hits in Friday's 15-5 win against the Orioles then was designated for assignment after the game to make room on the 25-man roster for C Wilson Ramos.

    Matt Duffy is expected to resume his baseball activities once the stitches heal.