All the talk about the Tampa Bay Rays walking and striking out too much took a backseat to the long ball in Cleveland.
The Rays capped a 6-2 road trip by setting a franchise record in home runs for a three-game series at the Cleveland Indians’ expense. Corey Dickerson, Logan Morrison and Jesus Sucre sent three balls out of Progressive Field Wednesday afternoon. When Sucre’s jack off of Indians reliever Shawn Armstrong left the yard, it made for 10 Rays homers in the series.
That’s the most ever by any Rays team in a three-game set and it propelled them to a 7-4 win. It also gets Tampa Bay to within a game of .500 as the Rays come back home for a seven-game stand against the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels.
The recent power surge propelled Tampa Bay into a tie with the division-rival Yankees for the most home runs in the American League. The Rays’ 59 homers are six behind the Major League Baseball-leading 65 hit by the Milwaukee Brewers. The Washington Nationals are behind them with 62.
Wednesday’s three homers were nice, but it was Tuesday when the Rays bats really went off. Tampa Bay pulled out a 6-4 win over the Indians and all six runs came courtesy of the long ball. Dickerson smacked a pair and he was joined in the homer parade by Colby Rasmus, Derek Norris and Tim Beckham.
It’ll be interesting to watch how the rest of the year plays out offensively. The Rays fired longtime hitting coach Derek Shelton last September and put Chad Mottola in his place. If there’s a notable difference early in 2017, it’s that the Rays are walking more than they have in the past couple of years.
The Rays finished 24th and 21st in walks in 2016 and 2015, respectively. The Rays were third and ninth in strikeouts in 2016 and 2015, respectively.
As of Wednesday night, Tampa Bay is still striking out a lot, but they’re walking a lot more, too. The Rays are leading the league in both categories.