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Rays

Shoppach spree ignites offense

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 01:02 AM
ARLINGTON, Texas -

C Kelly Shoppach, who lives in nearby Fort Worth, homered twice Friday and drove in five runs during the Rays' 9-0 victory, tying a pair of franchise postseason records in the process.

Shoppach tied Willy Aybar's record for RBIs in a game, which Aybar set in Game 4 of the 2008 ALCS at Boston. Shoppach also joined 3B Evan Longoria and CF B.J. Upton as the only Rays to hit two home runs in a postseason game. Longoria and Upton did it during the 2008 ALCS.

"He picked a good time to start shining," Longoria said.

Shoppach, playing primarily for his defense, also singled and scored three times. He did not play against the Rangers last season during the two ALDS games in Arlington and was 1-for-12 against them this season. With family and friends included in the crowd of 50,498, Shoppach was glad to show them he can still hit.

"It is nice to come back and play for these people who helped me get to this point," Shoppach said. "And what a day. What a way to honor those people."

Jennings dropped to eighth in order

LF Desmond Jennings was dropped from the leadoff spot to eighth in the order in an effort to shake him from his late-season slump.

Jennings had three hits in his last 40 at-bats during the final 10 regular-season games.

"He's off a little bit right now, and we need to get him back on track, and that's part of it," manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought, let's reduce his role just a little bit, and hopefully just one day might jog him and get him back on track."

Jennings singled in the eighth inning to snap an 0-for-27 skid that dated to Sept. 22 in New York. Maddon said Jennings could find himself back at the top of the order tonight.

"I want to see him relax," Maddon said. "I want to see just a little better at-bat, looking more like himself."

The ALDS roster

1B Dan Johnson, who delivered one of the biggest home runs in team history Wednesday night, was left off the ALDS roster so the Rays could add a third catcher.

Maddon said having three catchers will allow him flexibility to pinch-hit later in games. That's why INF Elliot Johnson made the roster. Johnson can be used as a pinch-runner, and his ability to play the infield and outfield gives Maddon even more late-inning flexibility.

RHP Jeff Niemann's back is still sore, so he will not pitch during this series. Maddon said they hope they can have Niemann healthy in time for the ALCS, should the Rays advance.

LHP J.P. Howell, who struggled in September, was kept over LHP Cesar Ramos because Maddon likes Howell on left-handed batters.

Davis to the 'pen

RHP Wade Davis will work in the bullpen this series. The move was made to clear room in the rotation for LHP Matt Moore and because the Rangers have a mostly right-handed lineup.

"At this point it's about winning, any way we can win," Davis said. "I knew what it was coming to when they made the decision. I'm happy with it, and I'm going to do what I got to do out there."

Dognapped

A fan sitting behind the Rays dugout took Astro, the plastic figurine of David Price's French bulldog that was given to fans during the regular season as part of a promotion. Price places it on top of the dugout every game as a good-luck charm. The fan didn't return it and was escorted from the stadium.

"I think it's all in good fun," Price said. "But I think it's bad karma."

Price said it was the first time someone tried to grab the mini Astro. All is not lost, though. Moore, who pitched the Rays to the victory, gave Price another mini Astro after the game.

"Matt Moore saved the day again," Price said.

Dumb enough?

1B Casey Kotchman wrote "Dumb just enough" on the grease board in the clubhouse before Friday's game. RF Matt Joyce interpreted the meaning.

"We shocked everybody. We almost even shocked ourselves by being in this situation. We're not supposed to be here. We might just be dumb enough to win this whole thing," he said.

Noteworthy

A limited number of tickets for Monday's Game 3 go on sale at 9 a.m. today at Rays ticket outlets. The Rays are expecting a sellout. … Maddon hasn't announced the Game 3 starter, but it will likely be Price, with RHP Jeremy Hellickson in Game 4. The Game 3 starter will start Game 1 of the ALCS. RHP James Shields starts tonight and will start Game 5 if the series goes the distance. … DH Johnny Damon's home run was his 10th in the postseason. … It was the first postseason shutout for the Rays.

Roger Mooney

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