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Pena revels in No. 40 -- a little
By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published September 17, 2007
B.J. Upton of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays is congratulated after he and Carlos Pena scored in the seventh inning against the Seattle Mariners.
SEATTLE - Throughout his remarkable comeback season, 1B Carlos Pena has refused to acknowledge any milestones, talking instead about clear thoughts and big pictures.
But Sunday, after hitting his team-record-extending 40th homer, he admitted to at least a slight sense of accomplishment.
"It's a plateau," Pena said. "You get to 20, you get to 30, you get to 40, those are obviously different types of levels. And I can't deny that it feels great, very good, to get to 40, that's for sure. No doubt about it.
"I know that when the season ends I'll be able to really look back and be like, 'Okay, what just happened?' In the meantime, you just try to enjoy every single day and, like I keep on saying, just keep it as simple as I possibly can."
Pena is the 110th major-leaguer to hit 40 homers in a season, the 55th American-Leaguer and the 10th Dominican-born. He is the 20th to do so in his first season with a new team.
And, manager Joe Maddon said, he should be proud of it.
"That's quite a story right there," he said. "Obviously none of us thought he would do that in the beginning of the year."
NOT-SO-MINOR MATTERS: DH Sergio Pedroza hit a three-run homer with one out in the ninth to lead Double-A Montgomery to a dramatic 4-3 win over Huntsville that clinched a second straight Southern League championship. The Biscuits hung on as Tim Corcoran put two on in the ninth then got a game-ending double play.
It is the seventh championship won by Rays minor-league teams, second this season after Class A Columbus.
HELP ON THE WAY: LHP Jeff Ridgway comes to the bigs for the first time today and will get the chance to show if he can be part of next season's bullpen.
Ridgway, 27, was 2-3 with a 3.06 ERA and four saves for Triple-A Durham and caught the Rays' attention by regularly getting his fastball to 93-94 mph and occasionally to 95.
"From what I'm hearing, he just made a lot of progress during the season," Maddon said. "Everybody's looking for one of them, the hard-throwing lefty out of the bullpen. So we'll see."
LHP J.P. Howell, who has pitched well at Triple A but gone 1-7, 6.21 in two seasons with the Rays, will come up to work in long relief until starting the Sept.30 season finale. Durham pitching coach Xavier Hernandez, who regularly earns raves from his staff, also will join the Rays.
SPECIAL K: After another strong outing Saturday, LHP Scott Kazmir has 13 wins, one shy of the team record, and 220 strikeouts, matching Johan Santana for one off the AL lead.
But the number he is most interested in is 200 - as in innings pitched. With two starts remaining, he has 1952/3. "I told you guys before the season, that's something I really wanted to shoot for," Kazmir said.
MISCELLANY: There is no TV coverage tonight. ... Several Rays pitchers had messages in to former teammate Shawn Camp, whose mother died unexpectedly Friday night, causing him to leave the Triple-A Durham team. ... Akinori Iwamura and Delmon Young became the ninth set of rookie teammates since 1980 to combine for 300 hits.
How the Rays stand in avoiding the worst record in the majors:
Team W-L GA
Rays 63-87 -
White Sox 64-85 +1.5
Orioles 64-84 +2
Royals 64-84 +2
Astros 65-84 +2.5
Marlins 65-84 +2.5
Nationals 66-83 +3.5
Pirates 66-83 +3.5
Giants 66-83 +3.5
How Carlos Pena stacks up with other top sluggers: