ST. PETERSBURG — There was one concern Yandy Diaz had on what was a record day for the Rays offense in an 11-4 thrashing of the Twins.
“I think from giving everyone daps so hard,’’ Diaz said Saturday, via team interpreter Manny Navarro said,’’ I think I’m going to break someone’s arm.’’
Fortunately there were no reports of collateral damage coming from all the high-fives, fist bumps and bulky forearm bashes as the Rays flexed the muscle of their majors-leading offense, hitting a team-record-tying six home runs, for the first time at Tropicana Field and, more impressively, for the first time by six different players.
Diaz got the Rays started with a three-run blast in the second, and Jordan Luplow followed for the team’s fourth back-to-back homers of the season. Manuel Margot and Randy Arozarena went deep in the third. Then in the fourth, Nelson Cruz hit the 444th of his career, which ranks 42nd all time, and Brandon Lowe hit his team-leading 32nd, and on his bobblehead day.
“Everyone’s trying to give the best of themselves. We’re trying to go out there and compete, and I think we’re doing a good job of it,’’ Arozarena said via Navarro. “Usually it’s one or two guys, but (Saturday) it was everybody, which was good.’’
The win improved the Rays’ American League-best record to 86-50, matching the franchise high of 36 games over .500. They increased their East Division lead to 7½ games over the Yankees, who lost for the sixth time this season to the last-place Orioles, the same group the Rays beat 18 of 19 times.
Chris Archer went five innings to get his first big-league win since June 2019, and Dietrich Enns became the major-league record 13th pitcher to get a save for the Rays this season, but the day was about the offensive outburst.
Especially since Tampa Bay, which leads with the majors with 728 runs total and a 5.38 per game average, had two quiet nights against Boston before scoring five Friday, and had gone parts of four games, and 24 innings, without a homer until Diaz went deep. Of the team’s 13 hits Saturday — including two by rookie Wander Franco, who returned to the lineup and extended his on-base streak to 34 games — eight were for extra bases.
“There’s just a lot of people that had good at-bats, did damage when they got pitches to hit,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “We went quiet for two days. We bounced back with (five runs Friday). And then (Saturday) really capitalized on opportunities. So I think this team has a lot of confidence. If they have an off-night, they know what they’re capable of doing the following day.’’
Or, as Diaz said simply, when asked how good their offense was:
Arozarena had the biggest day, his 14th of the season with three hits. He tripled, singled and homered in his first two at-bats, giving him two more shots to hit a double and join B.J. Upton (2009) and Evan Longoria (2017) as the only Rays to hit for the cycle.
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“Once I got that triple, you kind of have it in your mind since the triple is the hardest one to get, so you immediately start thinking about it,’’ Arozarena said.
With much of the Trop crowd of 13,861 chanting “Randy, Randy, Randy” as he came to the plate, Arozarena was hit in the helmet by a glancing pitch in the fifth and struck out in the seventh.
“It feels good to have them screaming and yelling,’’ he said. “They buy a ticket to come watch their favorite baseball players play, so I like to kind of return the favor. They support us, I like to go out there and support them, so I like to have a little bit of fun with them. With all the support and it feels really good.’’
It was the kind of day the Rays had a lot to feel good about.
Six packs to go
Saturday was fifth time in Rays’ 24-season history that they hit six homers in a game, the first at Tropicana Field, and first time by six different players:
Sept. 5, 2021, vs. Twins, 11-4 win: Yandy Diaz, Jordan Luplow, Manuel Margot, Randy Arozarena, Nelson Cruz, Brandon Lowe
July 23, 2019, at Orioles, 12-4 win: Mike Brosseau 2, Yandy Diaz, Nathaniel Lowe 2, Tommy Pham
May 7, 2009, at Yankees, 8-6 win: Jason Bartlett, Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria 2, Ben Zobrist, Carl Crawford
June 11, 2006, at Royals, 8-2 win: Jonny Gomes 2. Carl Crawford 2, Aubrey Huff, Julio Lugo
Aug. 10, 2002, at Royals, 13-6 win: Aubrey Huff, Carl Crawford, Jared Sandberg 2, Andy Sheets, Steve Cox
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