ANAHEIM, Calif. — Wade Davis looks ready to resume shouldering his load in the Rays rotation.
Davis made a solid return in the Rays' 10-3 win over the Angels on Tuesday, with no apparent after-effects of the shoulder strain that sidelined him for nearly three weeks.
The rookie right-hander threw 85 pitches while working into the sixth, allowed six hits and three walks with five strikeouts and was clocked as high as 95 mph on several occasions and at 91 on his final toss, all good reasons for a sigh of relief from the Rays. They'll breathe even easier today if Jeff Niemann does as well in his return from the same situation.
"A nice first step coming back,'' manager Joe Maddon said. The win kept the Rays tied with the Yankees atop the American League East at 78-48 with 36 games to play, and it produced several milestones:
• With Davis getting his 10th win, they became the first team in the majors to have five starters with double-digit victories. The Twins and Cardinals have four each.
• They won consecutive series (and four straight games) in Anaheim for the first time in their 13-season history.
• And Maddon tied original manager Larry Rothschild's franchise record with his 15th ejection, and sixth against the Angels, his former team, after vehemently arguing a relatively insignificant call at second base.
Of less historical significance but more relevance on Tuesday, under a full moon and before a sellout crowd of 43,577, Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce homered and John Jaso and Carl Crawford knocked in two runs apiece to lead the offense as the Rays got to relax after a string of five consecutive one-run games.
"That was nice not having to hold our breath going into the eighth and ninth innings,'' Jaso said. "It was a good game for all of us.''
Davis' last start was Aug. 5 against the Twins, and it wasn't pretty as he allowed a career-high 10 hits (over six innings) and showed a noticeable lack of velocity, joking now that he'd thrown changeups harder than the 84 mph his fastball was registering: "That was definitely not a fun game to pitch in.''
He looked much more like he typically does on Tuesday, throwing his fastball regularly in the low 90s, mixing in some curves and sliders and a few changeups.
Davis said the shoulder felt fine — "loose and free'' — and the pitching part went about as well as expected.
"I thought the command was pretty good,'' he said. "There were a couple times I got a little wild but I got back in a good pattern and good rhythm. And physically it was good. Toward the end I got a little bit tired.''
Maddon said pretty much the same thing, that the velocity "was really good" but thought Davis' command "could be like a click better,'' especially with his breaking balls.
But overall? "I thought Davis was good tonight, very good. Coming back off that situation I was really pleased,'' Maddon said. "He looked healthy and the ball was coming out (of his hand) well.''
The Rays again jumped to an early lead with four runs in a productive second and a Longoria hometown home run to open the third.
They got one run in the second inning when Dan Johnson doubled in Carlos Peña, they got two on Jaso's bases-loaded single up the middle and they got one more when B.J. Upton, after stealing third for the 11th time, tagged up on a popup to shallow left that shortstop Erick Aybar ran down somewhat casually with his back to the plate.
What happened next didn't lead to anything, but it was one of those moments that reflect the Rays' aggressive nature. Jaso tagged up and went to second on the play, and seeing that third base was uncovered he kept running and beat catcher Bobby Wilson to the bag.
Joyce homered in the sixth inning; Longoria, after his first hitless game at Angel Stadium on Monday, rapped his third of the night, a two-out RBI double in the seventh, giving him a .409 average, four homers, nine doubles and 13 RBIs in 11 games. Crawford doubled in two more in the ninth, and Joyce added a sacrifice fly.
Maddon was ejected after Longoria was called out for coming off the base on a steal attempt with two outs in the fifth, a relatively insignificant moemnt in the game, with the Rays leading 5-1 at the time.
Longoria didn't like the call and said a few things to umpire Angel Campos, but Maddon raced out and was apparently a little more colorful in his words, then admitted there was a little more to it besides being around his old mates.
"It goes back a little bit. There were two consecutive calls I didn't like,'' Maddon said. "Tonight I might have been a little bit over the top, but for the most part it's been warranted. I said something that deserved it. I was a little bit pointed in the beginning.''
With almost half his ejections coming against the Angels, Maddon promised to be on his best behavior today.
"I'm going to really make a pledge to participate in at least nine innings of baseball,'' he said.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]