RHP James Shields said he would love to be the pitcher who helped the Rays set the American League record for strikeouts in a season, and he was.
Blue Jays C J. P. Arencibia became the Rays' 1,267th strikeout victim of the season when Shields struck him out Friday to start the second inning.
The strikeout pushed the Rays past the mark of 1,266 set in 2001 by the Yankees.
The major league record is 1,404 set in 2003 by the Cubs.
Shields needed three strikeouts Friday to put his pitching staff first in the record books, and he did that by fanning three of the first five batters he faced.
When asked about setting the record Thursday and the possibility of the baseball heading to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Shields said, "I'm going to be selfish when it comes to that."
He said he would keep the ball and have it signed by the Rays pitching staff.
'Prime Time' Upton
CF B.J. Upton finished his trip around the bases after Thursday's walk-off home run by borrowing a page from Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. Upton turned his body to the right, then to the left and shuffled to the plate just as the former FSU standout would do when crossing the goal line.
"I don't know, man. Just kind of happened," Upton said. "I couldn't figure out anything else to do. Just had some fun with it and I guess I decided to go 'Prime Time.' "
Sanders, now an analyst for the NFL Network, tweeted Friday that he liked it and would use the clip Sunday.
A vote for Vogt
C/OF Stephen Vogt had a pinch-hit walk during the ninth inning Thursday, which proved to be a key at-bat in the Rays' six-run rally.
Despite the fact he was 0-for-19 this season, Maddon said he liked Vogt batting for C Jose Lobaton in that spot.
"Part of what you do here is when you trust somebody, you just trust them," Maddon said. "I know he has no hits, but I know what he has done in the minor leagues. ... I don't know if he's going to get a hit or not, but I think he's going to work a good at-bat. I know he's not going to be flustered. I know he's not going to be taken by the moment."
Vogt said he's glad for the opportunity.
"It's an at-bat where I represent the winning run, I knew that. But it's an at-bat I had before. Maybe not in this kind of setting or off of a pitcher like Andrew Bailey, but it's an at-bat I had many times in my life, so you have to take yourself out of the equation and tell yourself you're looking for a pitch to drive in that situation, just get on base, get a hit and wait for your pitch. I never got my pitch," he said.
Friday was Tampa Bay Lightning night at Tropicana Field, home of the Bolts from 1993-1996 when it was known as the ThunderDome, as the franchise celebrates its 20th anniversary.
As part of the festivities, coach Guy Boucher threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Instead of a pitch, however, Boucher brought out a hockey stick and zipped a wrist shot from the mound to Vogt, who set up as a goalie. It was a perfect strike.
Boucher, who tossed several warm-up pitches from the mound, played baseball growing up in Quebec. But despite being a lefty, Boucher said he didn't do much pitching during his playing days.
"I could throw the ball hard, but I wasn't the most accurate,'' he said. "The mascot would have to wear a batting helmet.''
RHP Jeff Niemann threw Friday for the first time since leaving his Sept. 1 start with inflammation in his rotator cuff. He threw 35 times at 60 feet. "It's a starter place for us and we'll go from here. Things are going good, and I'm just encouraged to be out there throwing the ball around," he said.
Roger Mooney, Erik Erlendsson