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 [email protected]

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. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  2. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Bucs-Bills journal: Breakout game for Bucs tight end O.J. Howard

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It's obscured by the final score and a disappointing loss, but Bucs rookie tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout game Sunday, exceeding his season totals for catches and touchdowns in one afternoon.

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) celebrates a touchdown catch with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Vladislav Namestnikov is Lightning's top-line 'secret'

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov is piling up the goals. Steven Stamkos is an assist machine. They make for an impressive pairing in a league that favors scoring pairs over the more traditional three-player scoring lines.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov (90) reacts after scoring during the third period of the game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.
  5. Ex-Lightning forward Brian Boyle returns to practice after cancer diagnosis

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — Brian Boyle, diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia last month, was back on the ice with his Devils teammates Sunday after getting cleared to practice for the first time since his diagnosis.

    Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone-marrow cancer that the team's doctor says can be treated with medication, the Devils announced Tuesday. [AP photo]