1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

Tommy Pham leads off and comes through for Rays

The outfielder, starting in the leadoff spot for the first time this seaon, goes 2-for-3, including a comeback-starting two-run homer in the eighth.
Rays leftfielder Tommy Pham slugs a two-run homer during the eighth inning against the Tigers on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
Rays leftfielder Tommy Pham slugs a two-run homer during the eighth inning against the Tigers on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Aug. 18, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — Facing Tigers left-handed starter Matthew Boyd on Sunday, Rays manager Kevin Cash turned to mostly right-handed hitters in his lineup.

Cash inserted Travis d’Arnaud at first, Jesus Aguilar at DH, Mike Brosseau at second and Guillermo Heredia in centerfield. Leftfielder Tommy Pham started the game batting leadoff for the first time this season, moving from his usual No. 2 spot. He now has 42 career starts batting leadoff, 22 coming last season.

“It’s not my first time batting leadoff,” Pham said. “I’m pretty experienced in that area.”

Pham, entering Sunday, had a .451 on-base percentage against lefties this season. He sparked the offense immediately with a single in the first inning, eventually scoring on a d’Arnaud sacrifice fly. Pham reached base again in the third, drawing a walk.

Boyd struck out Pham in the fifth, but Pham raised his on-base percentage against lefties to .457 after reaching twice against the Tigers starter. Pham later slugged a two-run homer against right-hander Buck Farmer in the eighth.

Pham has two home runs and four RBIs over his past four games, attributing the success to better medical care for a right-hand injury he incurred July 28 in Toronto. After initially injuring the hand, Pham went 5-for-30 with no home runs to start August.

“Now that we have a better understanding of what’s going on with my hand, we have a better protocol of what to do before the game as far as treatment,” he said.

Walk it off

The Rays have five walkoff victories this season. They rallied for back-to-back walkoff wins Saturday (1-0 in 13 innings) and Sunday (5-4), their first consecutive walkoff victories since three in a row May 22-24, 2014.

“Good teams find a way to win, and that’s exactly what we did,” Pham said.

In their past five games at the Trop, the Rays have three walkoff wins, including two in extra innings.

“You can’t do it too many times,” Cash said. “At some point we need to get a lead for our pitchers a little bit and let them work with a little bit of room to wiggle out of.”

Glasnow makes strides

Right-hander Tyler Glasnow will throw a fastball-only bullpen session on Monday, his first since June 18. On the injured list since May 11 with a right forearm strain, Glasnow threw 10 pitches off the mound Saturday, delivering to a catcher positioned in front of home plate.

“He feels pretty free and confident to let it go,” Cash said. “It’ll be good to hear how his bullpen session goes.”

Glasnow will have to build his endurance back up before a potential return to the starting rotation. Cash said that expanded rosters in September will give the team the chance to experiment with the pitching staff.

“We can probably get creative with some of those different roles where guys (have) three- to four-inning roles,” Cash said. “We’ll just have to see and go by how (Glasnow) continues to progress.”


• Rays pitchers set a three-game series team record with 49 strikeouts, which included 12 Sunday. The Astros hold the MLB record with 52, against the Orioles on May 24-26, 2016.

• Infielders Brandon Lowe and Joey Wendle continued their rehab assignments with advanced Class-A Charlotte on Sunday. Wendle started at second and went 1-for-4. Lowe was the DH and went 1-for-3 with a double. He was also hit by a pitch.

• Top prospect Wander Franco collected two hits for Charlotte, extending his hitting streak to eight games.


  1. Finishing at, or near, the bottom of MLB in attendance isn't even the biggest problem for the Rays. It's the huge gap between where the Rays are in attendance compared to the average team. Tampa Bay is roughly 92 percent below just an average MLB crowd. [Times files (2017)]
  2. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher D.J. Snelten during the start of spring training in Port Charlotte, Florida on Thursday, February 13, 2020.
  3. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell signs autographs for fans during spring baseball practice Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 in Port Charlotte, Fla.
  4. Tampa-based sports agent B.B. Abbott, left, successfully climbs Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for pediatric cancer charities. He is pictured with friends Dustin Bertram, middle, and Pete Hendricks, who made the climb with him.
  5. Houston Astros outfielder Myles Straw points to the baseball he signed for Noah Jackson, 9, during FanFest at Minute Maid Park on Jan. 18, 2020, in Houston.
  6. Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Joey Wendle (18) looks from the dugout after losing 6-1 to the Houston Astros after winning Game 5 of the American League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 in Houston.
  7. Tampa Bay Rays fans welcome players during introductions just prior the Rays game against the Houston Astros for Game 3 of the American League Division Series Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 in St. Petersburg.
  8. He was the best player on some pretty bad Tampa Bay teams from 2001-06 before being dealt to Houston in the Ben Zobrist trade, but in his book "Baseball Junkie," Aubrey Huff has admitted he was not a particularly likable character.
  9. Tropicana Field saw big crowds again during Game 4 of the American League Division Series (ALDS) between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Houston Astros on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 in St. Petersburg.
  10. Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg addressing media at spring training on Wednesday.
  11. A life-sized statue of Hall of Famer Ty Cobb has been gifted to Lakeland’s Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers.
  12. New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge doesn't hold back as he talks about the Astros' cheating scandal on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in Tampa.