ST. PETERSBURG -- Bobby Henry, the Seminole medicine man, made another visit to Tropicana Field on Saturday. He presented Rays manager Joe Maddon with a pair of shirts, one in Rays colors, thanked Maddon for the respect the organization showed him and left Maddon with these words:
“Only the rock lives forever.”
Then the Rays went out an beat up the Blue Jays, 10-3, scoring the most runs at home since mid-April.
All those Baltimore chops that went against the Rays at the Trop earlier this season went for RBI hits for the home side.
Then there’s this: After the Rays batted around and scored six times in the sixth inning, bench coach George Hendrick dropped a water bottle in the dugout that landed on the cap and remained upright. Hendrick placed tape around the bottle and wrote, “Do Not Remove.”
Maddon just spread his hands wide when asked afterwards if Henry had anything to do with the Rays improved fortunes of late.
“Bobby was here,” Maddon said. “Four tickets. He’s on the ‘whatever you want, whenever you want it’ list.”
The win was the 10th for the Rays in their last 14 games and in a strange twist of fortune, erased everything negative that happened with Friday’s loss. The Rays picked up a game on the first-place Orioles and moved out of last place after the Red Sox lost to the Astros.
Jake Odorizzi, pressed into service one day ahead of his normal turn to fill in for David Price, who was fighting a stomach virus, pitched into the seventh inning and extended his streak of allowing three earned runs or less to seven games.
Kevin Kiermaier proved once again to be the spark for the offense, creating the game’s first run in the first inning when he ran a single into a double then delivering a two-run single with the bases-loaded in the sixth inning as the Rays put the game away.
Kiermaier finished the day with three hits, three RBI and two runs.
“For me to go in there as a hustle double to start the game off, I just wanted to spark us early and as often as possible,” Kiermaier said.
The team certainly responded.
The 10 runs were the most at the Trop since April 16 when they scored 16 against the Yankees. It was also just the fifth time this season the Rays scored at least 10 runs and the 10th time they batted around in an inning, the first since June 29 at Baltimore.
Evan Longoria and Sean Rodriguez, who had two at-bats before being lifted for pinch-hitter Cole Figueroa, were the only two Rays without a hit.
Figueroa, batting with the bases-loaded and one out in the sixth, drew a walk that broke a 2-2 tie.
“That’s something,” Maddon said of the production throughout the lineup. “We have to get into that habit. Make it more habitual.”
Maddon said it could become more of an occurrence if the rest of the position players played a little more like Kiermaier.
“The thing moving forward we just got to understand it’s got to be playing for one particular item and that’s to get to the playoffs and win,” Maddon said. “We can’t play with any kind of selfish thoughts, and we got to play with our hair on fire like Kiermaier is doing now, that number of RPMs per game. Everybody’s got to support everyone else. Everybody love everybody.”
Kiermaier said that’s the only way he knows how to play.
“Just 100 percent, all out,” Kiermaier said. “I look like an idiot sometimes, but for the most part, I try to be under control with everything and know when to push and when not to.”