ST. PETERSBURG — 1B James Loney didn’t not start Monday because manager Joe Maddon felt he looked fatigued as of late and wanted to give him a rest entering the final six games of the season.
That also meant Loney was available to pinch-hit, which is how he came to lead off the bottom of the ninth with the score tied. The idea was for Loney to get on base, so Maddon could unleash Freddy Guzman and his speed on the bases.
Loney lined the second pitch from RHP Tommy Hunter into the right-field seats to give the Rays a 5-4 victory against the Orioles.
“He sits around and rests, almost like his first at-bat in a night game, he comes up and hits a home run. It was fantastic,” Maddon said.
It was the first pinch-hit home run by a Ray since Carlos Pena did it Aug. 18, 2012, in Anaheim. It also was Loney’s 13th home run of the season, not much by the standards applied to first basemen, but the Rays don’t want Loney to try to hit home runs. They just want him to hit.
“I worked hard in the offseason to be the best player I can be and see what happens,” Loney said.
What happened is a .296 average and one very big home run.
“Honestly I was not expecting that,” Maddon said. “I was expecting him to get on base, because James will get his base hits, maybe a double, and get Guzie out there. That was it. That’s all that was about.”
DJ hopes to return
The results from Sunday’s MRI on the left hamstring of CF Desmond Jennings revealed a slight strain, Maddon said.
“We don’t think it’s awful,” Maddon said.
Jennings did not play Monday, and Maddon said he hopes to have him in the lineup at some point this week.
“Yeah, that’s the plan,” Jennings said. “We’ll see, see what we got (today) and go from there.”
When asked if he was confident he will play before the end of the regular season, Jennings said, “For sure.”
Friday’s starter is?
The Rays have not named a starter for Friday’s game at Toronto. It is RHP Jeremy Hellickson’s day to pitch if they stay in rotation, but Maddon wouldn’t commit to Hellickson.
“We haven’t decided on that yet, but it’s a possibility,” Maddon said. “We haven’t decided on that starter because (RHP Jake) Odorizzi is also an option, too. We’ll just see how the next couple of days play out, because if we need to use somebody (in relief) we’re going to use him.”
Maddon said RHP Enny Romero, who started Sunday’s game is not an option, though he did add he will use Romero out of the bullpen.
Cobb’s big award
RHP Alex Cobb was named the American League Player of the Week after going 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA in two starts.
“If you can ask me to pick a time to get that award, it would be right now helping the team out a lot,” Cobb said.
RHP Chris Archer allowed four runs in 4 1/2 innings Monday. He’s 1-2 with a 4.88 ERA in five starts this month. The Rays won for only the second time this season when Archer failed to go at least six innings. ... RF Wil Myers’ two-run single in the seventh inning snapped a team-wide 0-for-18 streak with the bases loaded. ... 2B Tim Beckham made his first big-league start. He drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly and scored the second run on a double by C Jose Molina. ... Monday’s game drew 17,830 to the Trop, raising the season total to 1,510,300 — the lowest season total in the “Rays” era. ... RHP Joel Peralta pitched a perfect ninth inning and earned his third win of the season.