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 native Matt Joyce drives in four to lead Tampa Bay Rays past Royals

ST. PETERSBURG — Outfielder Matt Joyce said he's sure there were "a lot of questions" surrounding the offseason trade that brought him here from Detroit for right-hander Edwin Jackson.

With every strong start by Jackson, who boasts one of the league's best ERAs, the Tampa native said people were probably wondering "whether the trade was equal or how it's going to work out."

Said Joyce: "I'm just trying to keep up with him.''

In his past two starts, he has done more than that. Joyce homered for the second straight game, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs and lifting the Rays (26-28) to a 6-2 win over the Royals Tuesday in front of 13,604 at Tropicana Field who gave him a huge ovation in the ninth.

Joyce, 24, called up Saturday, doesn't know how long his stay in the big leagues will be. But with the Rays lineup taking yet another hit as third baseman Evan Longoria left with left hamstring tightness, his teammates know how big Joyce's bat could be.

"I think he's gonna be huge," Longoria said. "Obviously, they traded for him for a reason and he's kind of proven that now. He's doing what he can do and he's producing."

Said manager Joe Maddon: "This guy's got a special bat, it makes a different sound when he hits it, and you always like to have those kind of guys in your offense."

Right-hander Andy Sonnanstine had given up five or more runs in three of his previous four starts, including a career-high eight in his last outing. But he was sharp Tuesday, getting ahead of hitters and minimizing the big inning. He gave up a homer to Jose Guillen in the second and another to Miguel Olivo in the fifth; right-handers are hitting .433 against him. But he was more efficient, with no walks on 91 pitches while lasting 62/3 innings.

"I felt real good, felt like I was aggressive and pitching like my old self," he said. "I felt like I had more conviction with all my pitches tonight and really stayed focus."

The Rays got their offense from Joyce and Ben Zobrist, who hit a two-run homer in the fourth.

With Joyce, it wasn't just that he got hits, it was how. His two-run double and his homer came with two outs. He came up in the sixth against lefty Horacio Ramirez and looked toward Maddon to see if he was going to get replaced by a pinch-hitter because of his struggles with left-handers.

Joyce, "excited" by the vote of confidence, ripped a double to left-center. He said his work in winter ball hitting against lefties is paying off. In the eighth, Joyce hit a two-run homer, his third in 17 at-bats this season.

When he went to rightfield in the ninth, he received a huge ovation. "That was awesome," he said. "I pointed at them and basically said, 'Thanks.' They had a sign, 'Matt Joyce Fan Club.' I had fun with it."

Maddon has said Joyce may not necessarily be up for good. But he also said, "You don't walk away from good performance.

"I think he's ready to be an everyday major-league player. We'll have to play this through and see where it takes us."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com

Tampa native Matt Joyce drives in four to lead Tampa Bay Rays past Royals 06/02/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 29, 2009 10:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.

  5. Bucs journal: Simeon Rice gives master class on sacks to defensive ends

    Bucs

    TAMPA — As the Bucs seek their first 10-sack season from a player since Simeon Rice in 2005, who better to help that cause than Rice himself?

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Simeon Rice works with defensive end Noah Spence (57) after practice at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.