Tampa Bay Rays
Rays notes: Team set for homer-happy Coors, Rockies
KANSAS CITY -
The homer-happy Rays continue this three-city trip in Denver, home of homer-happy Coors Field.
And that concerns manager Joe Maddon.
The thin air in Denver enables baseballs to travel better.
“I've never been a fan,” Maddon said. “If you're an offensive player you love it. If you're a pitcher you don't love it as much.”
The Rays, who open interleague play tonight with the first of three games against the Rockies, have faced the Rockies four times in Coors Field, where they are 2-7 all time. In their last victory there — June 16, 2009 — they hit five home runs in a 12-4 victory.
Maddon said Coors Field's reputation as a home run hitter's dream — or any hitter for that matter — is very real and that it can mess with the mind of a hitter, especially one who doesn't play there often.
“Fly balls stay up there longer,” Maddon said. “Guys who don't normally have power have it there. Beyond all that it's the psychological component. … There just is that (knowledge) that as an offensive player you don't try to do too much and you're rewarded, whereas a pitcher tries to do too much and is not. That psychological factor is also a part of it. I don't care what anybody says, it's true.”
The Rays have homered in a team-record 16 straight games. The have hit a major league-high 29 home runs during the streak.
The Rays pitchers for the series — LHP Matt Moore, LHP David Price and RHP Alex Cobb — are eagerly awaiting their chance to hit.
By the way, a day after game Thursday night in Kansas City was postponed due to rain and snow, the lows in Denver tonight will dip into the upper 30s.
Moore's moment With a 5-0 record and a 1.13 ERA, Moore had a chance to win pitcher of the month for April. He didn't. That honor went to Boston's Clay Buchholz, who was 5-0 with a 1.19 ERA during the first month of the season.
When asked about the possibility of winning the award Thursday morning before the winner was announced, Moore said, “I think it will kind of help me carry over something into the next month. I think it's a good visual to see something like that, but at the same time we're very much trying to stay in the moment.”
As for hitting, Moore said his swing is “getting there.”
His chances of going yard tonight could be impeded by the fact the Rockies are starting lefty Jeff Francis.
“Even if it was a righty I don't know how much better I'd feel about my chances,” Moore said. “Hopefully we'll have someone on base and I can work the moment, bunt him over or something. The last couple of days I haven't felt too good about it.”
Like all the starters on the Rays staff, Moore welcomes the chance to pitch in a National League city and the opportunity to bat. He said it adds a little excitement to the game when he's not on the mound.
“Especially if you're due up fourth or fifth, you want to get something going,” Moore said. “You want your guys to get on base, but at the same time you want to have a breather. I like it. Honestly, if you told me I could pick the way the rules would be, I would much rather have my say so in the batter's box than kind of just sitting my turn out. It will be fun.”
Noteworthy With a win tonight, Moore will set the franchise record for most wins in consecutive starts. Counting his final start of 2012, Moore has won six straight starts, tying him with Scott Kazmir for the team record. … Wednesday's loss snapped a streak of 64 straight wins when scoring at least eight runs. … Had Thursday's game resumed after the rain/snow delay, Maddon said he would have used LHP Cesar Ramos. … Former Ray James Shields received his 2012 Paul C. Smith Champion Award, as voted on by the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers of America. … Thirteen players have homered during the Rays' streak. The only position player who hasn't is OF Sam Fuld. … The Rays have now had one game canceled because of inclement weather on each of their first two road trips.