RAYS 14, A'S 6: A first-inning outburst featuring Carl Crawford's triple and homer kicks off Tampa Bay's second straight win.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
Published May 26, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG - Imagine a game in which a batter hits a home run and a triple ... in one inning. A game in which a team hammers six extra-base hits, including two homers, and scores 10 ... in one inning.
Imagine the fans so appreciative when that inning is over that they give the home team a standing ovation.
Now imagine it happened to the Devil Rays.
If you were at Wednesday night's game against the Athletics, you didn't imagine it, you saw it, as Tampa Bay used a 10-run, eight-hit first to spark a 14-6 rout at Tropicana Field.
It was the most the Rays ever scored in a first inning, and the second most in any inning behind the 11-spot put on the Mariners in May 2000. Carl Crawford led off with a triple and later slammed a three-run home run. Six extra-base hits in an inning set a team record.
It all left Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella unable to think of anything comparable.
"That was as fine a first inning as I've ever seen," he said. "Everybody was involved. A heck of an inning. I don't remember seeing anything like that to start a ballgame."
A's third baseman Eric Chavez simply said, "It was pretty embarrassing."
The 14 runs were one short of the Tropicana Field record set in July 2003 against the Rangers but well short of the 19 scored at Toronto in June 2004.
Home runs by Damon Hollins and Josh Phelps gave Tampa Bay three in a game for the first time this season, and its 15 hits were one off the season high.
More important, though, it was the second straight victory for the Rays, who upped their home record to 14-12, and the second straight win and first ever at the Trop for starter Scott Kazmir.
The left-hander, 2-4 with a 4.13 ERA, pitched six innings before a pitch count of 111 hastened his departure. He allowed two runs (one earned) with five strikeouts.
"I don't think I ever sat for a 10-run inning," he said. "It's always good to have that at the very beginning to get you at ease and make you feel confident out there."
Imagine, then, what Joe Blanton felt like. The A's starter got one out and allowed eight runs (seven earned) on six hits.
Crawford drove Blanton's first pitch off the right-centerfield wall for a triple, the first of eight consecutive batters to reach base. Julio Lugo, Jorge Cantu and Travis Lee had run-scoring doubles. Alex Sanchez and Hollins had infield hits. Sanchez's knocked in a run.
The first out was by No. 9 batter Nick Green, whose sacrifice fly made the score 6-0.
That was it for Blanton. Britt Reames, called up Wednesday from Triple-A Sacramento and making his first big-league appearance since July 2003 with the Expos, gave up a three-run home run to Crawford, his first batter, on an 0-and-2 pitch.
Two of those runs were charged to Blanton, whose ERA went from 5.15 to 6.55.
"No reason to apologize," Blanton said. "I tried as hard as I could out there, and that's all you can do. There is nothing to say sorry for except I feel like I let the team down a little bit."
The A's got a respite when Lugo popped to second base. But it was only temporary as Hollins ripped a laser off Reames into the leftfield stands for a 10-0 lead.
Hollins had three hits, and his fifth home run since his May 2 callup from Triple-A Durham tied the team lead and made him tops among AL rookies. He also tied a team rookie mark set in August 1998 by Bubba Trammell for home runs in a month.
There were some rough spots. These are the Rays, after all.
Tampa Bay made three errors, two by third baseman Cantu. Reliever Jon Switzer, staked to a 13-2 lead in the eighth, pitched a dreadful inning in which he walked five and allowed four runs.
It may have mattered if not for that first inning.
"That was crazy," Lugo said. "Everything we hit was falling. You do that and you have a chance to win."