Thursday, April 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays rout Toronto Blue Jays 12-2

TORONTO — The numbers on the Rays' lineup card may be little different tonight.

Manager Joe Maddon moved Ben Zobrist up to the second slot Wednesday, ostensibly to give him a different look than in the middle of the order, and Zobrist hit a two-run homer on his first swing to send the Rays on their way to a 12-2 victory.

Carlos Peña had done well in the No. 2 spot, then Zobrist started well, so Maddon quickly went down the bench with a new plan. "It was funny," Matt Joyce said. "Joe was telling everybody, 'You're a two-hole hitter, you're a two-hole hitter.' " Tonight, he's planning to post a lineup card with a 2 in front of each name.

"It was a nice look," Maddon said. "I liked it.'

Zobrist got the Rays started on what turned out to be their biggest night of the year: Their first game in double-digit runs; their biggest inning, a six-run ninth; and their first with four (or even three) homers, as Joyce, among a career-high three extra-base hits, and Sean Rodriguez hit solo shots and Luke Scott a grand slam.

"We worked good at-bats," Maddon said.

Add in a good-but-not-great start by David Price and encouraging relief work by Wade Davis and Joel Peralta and the Rays got back to even at 6-6 with the end of their tortuous 10-game trip to Detroit, Boston and Toronto finally upon them tonight.

Maddon had been thinking for a few days of moving Zobrist up to second, primarily to provide RBI opportunities for Peña and Evan Longoria, who each moved down a spot to third and fourth.

So what if it worked slightly different than he had planned.

"I sure liked it after I hit that ball," Zobrist said. "I sure liked the look of it then. I liked the look of 12 runs, too."

More change is coming with the pending return of B.J. Upton, likely Friday. One of the players who will be most affected will be Joyce, who, with Upton going back to centerfield and Desmond Jennings to left, will go from being the everyday leftfielder to a platoon starter in right, playing against right-handers (with Zobrist at second) and sitting vs. lefties (with Zobrist in right and Jeff Keppinger at second).

Joyce at least gave Maddon something to think about, showing there was some merit to the theory that by playing every day he would do better against lefties (.267, 4-for-15).

Said Joyce: "It's a presentable case."

Price didn't necessarily look like he had the best stuff of his life, as he said going into the game, but he did hold the Jays to two runs before another small Rogers Centre crowd of 15,828.

The problem, once again, was that he threw too many pitches to work deep into the game, in this case 106 in 52/3 innings. That's after throwing 107 in 61/3 in his debut and 83 over three his last time out, Friday in Boston.

"I'm still struggling a little bit," Price said, "so I need to get back into form and take it from there."

"You know there's more dominating coming," Maddon said. "But I'll take it tonight."

Marc Topkin can be reached at tampabay.com.

 
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