St. Petersburg Times
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Schedule
The Trop
The Trop
Getting to the Trop
Best routes
Parking
Interactive
Rays forum
The art of pitching
Links
Devil Rays' official home site
Talk baseball in our Devil Rays forum



Print storySubscribe to the Times

A fun day at the matinee

RAYS 5, TWINS 2: Tampa Bay has many reasons to enjoy its 10th victory in 14 games.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 4, 2004

photo
[AP photo]
Rays catcher Toby Hall congratulates reliever Danys Baez after Baez converted his 10th save.

MINNEAPOLIS - The bats have warmed up. The pitching has improved. The schedule has gotten easier. The mood has gotten lighter. The confidence has grown. The smiles have come more frequently.

And the victories have, too.

There isn't any one reason the Devil Rays have stopped the losing and started to turn around their season, Thursday's 5-2 matinee victory over the Twins making it 10 wins in their past 14 games.

There are many.

"The big one is that we're holding on to the games we have leads in, and you can credit the bullpen for that," manager Lou Piniella said. "The second is our bats. We talked about needing a five-six run offense, and we've started to score five-six runs more consistently. We've started to give our pitchers a little bit of a breather, and they're pitching with leads and it's made a difference."

Aubrey Huff, whose three-run homer was the difference Thursday, said things started to get better two weeks ago when the Rays - finally - won back-to-back games for the first time this season.

"We won two in a row, and before you knew it we won three, and after that we got a little winning streak going, and everyone started relaxing, and you started to see some smiles coming to the ballpark and everyone having some fun and wise-cracking on each other," Huff said. "Everyone started relaxing and having a little more fun at the ballpark. And when you're having fun, guys are jelling a little more, and when you're jelling, you're playing better baseball.

"The first month-and-a-half, it was a nightmare coming to the field. Every day you woke up and you dreaded coming because you knew your chances weren't very good. Everyone was so down. We had four-five guys hitting in the .100s., the pitchers weren't throwing very well, nothing was going right. We kept saying eventually it was going to turn around, and, finally, we're starting to see some progress."

Thursday's game was one they probably would not have won a month ago. Mark Hendrickson gave up a homer on his fourth pitch. A couple of more Minnesota hits made it 2-0 in the fourth. And the Rays were being no-hit by Johan Santana through five innings.

It all changed in the sixth.

Geoff Blum, 0-for-his-past 20, broke up the no-hitter with a leadoff double, moved to third on a fly ball and scored on a two-out single by Julio Lugo. Rocco Baldelli followed with a single, then Huff hit a hanging 0-1 slider 417 feet into the football press box high above right-centerfield to make it 4-2.

Huff is a big part of the revival. He has hit .344 with 23 RBIs his past 24 games to raise his average from .186 to .263, is on a team- and season-high 12-game hitting streak and has four homers and 12 RBIs in his past seven games.

There was a chance for trouble in the seventh when Hendrickson walked No. 9 hitter Alex Prieto with one out. But Travis Harper came on to get a ground-ball double play, then sailed through the eighth. Danys Baez worked the ninth for his 10th straight save.

The Rays won their first road series since August and their first in Minnesota since 2001.

"We're pleased to come in here and win three of four," Piniella said. "It's getting better. All we can do is forget what happened early in the season and continue to play."

[Last modified June 3, 2004, 21:08:06]

Today's lineup
Rays>
A fun day at the matinee
Up next: Orioles
Brazelton ready to take his turn in spot fight

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Lightning>
Extra painful
Game 5: period by period
Goalie comparison
He won't be handcuffed
In the beginning, there they were
Mix-and-match theory clicked
Shenanigans, not skill, dominating this final
Slapshots
Sound bites
Teammates defend Khabibulin - off the ice
Three stars of the game
ThunderBug has us all abuzz

Other sports

Baseball
  • AL: Shef serves Yankees well
  • Bradley, Lackey and managers suspended
  • NL: Mets spoil Burnett's return to Marlins

  • Colleges
  • Former Jesuit star doesn't miss a beat (or wall) at FSU
  • Baseball regionals

  • Golf
  • Els, Curtis share lead at Memorial

  • Gymnastics
  • With Olympics out, 14-year-old cashing in

  • In brief
  • Sprinter's parents find racist graffiti at home

  • Little League
  • Palm Harbor American falls

  • Motorsports
  • Newman's slump buster could be Monster Mile

  • NBA
  • Auerbach is not high on Jackson

  • NFL
  • Warner will be Manning's tutor

  • NHL
  • Detroit will keep its coach

  • Preps
  • All Hillsborough County baseball team
  • All Pinellas County boys tennis
  • Expectations met
  • Good start for Tarpon
  • Harley sustains excellence

  • Sports on the air
  • NBC big winner in Triple Crown
  • Remote patrol: Telethon preempts tennis, AFL

  • Tennis
  • French team beats Americans again
  • Russian rush to final knocks Capriati aside

  • The Belmont
  • It's Smarty's party
  • Smarty Jones' mother comes up in the world
  • Riding to fame or blame
  • Tickets at a premium: like $400
  • Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
     


     Devil Rays Forums
    From The Wire
  • Players, teams start rush to settle in arbitration
  • AP source: Yankees sign free agent RHP Kuroda
  • AP source: Pineda, Montero in Yanks-Mariners swap
  • Resop, Pirates agree to a one-year deal
  • Zambrano says he's happy with trade to Marlins
  • Report: UK police officer loses Olympics documents
  • Jayhawks send Baylor to first loss of season
  • No. 1 Syracuse at 20-0 after 71-63 win over Pitt
  • Fisher's late 3 pushes Lakers past Mavericks 73-70
  • Westbrook's 3s lead Thunder past Celtics 97-88
  • Djokovic, Williams into Australian Open 2nd round
  • Tebow has earned starting status in 2012
  • Filly Havre de Grace wins Horse of the Year
  • Crosby to meet with specialist as symptoms linger
  • AP Top 25: Syracuse stays on top for 6th week