Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Joyce earns more ABs against lefties
Posted May 31, 2011 by Roger Mooney
Updated May 31, 2011 at 11:28 PM
BY ROGER MOONEY
ST. PETERSBURG Here’s how you get more playing time against left-handed starters: You crush one off a pretty good lefty.
Matt Joyce did that Tuesday night against Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson that proved big in the Rays 5-4 win. Joyce hit his ninth home run, a two-run shot in the seventh that made the score 3-3.
“That’s probably the biggest swing of the night up to mine,” said Evan Longoria, whose two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth proved to be the difference. “He’s been doing it all season and he gives us an opportunity against C.J. who’s out there throwing a really good game. For him to stay in the game, keep battling and put a good swing on the ball and give us life, he’s been doing it and I expect it from him now.”
Joyce, who leads the major leagues with a .370 average, entered the game batting .231 with one home run against lefties. That one home run was his only home run against a lefty at the major league level.
Home runs by a lefty off Wilson are so rare, he didn’t allow one during the 2009 and 2010 season. Joyce was only the second lefty to homer off him this season.
“That’s not any lefty right there, that’s a good lefty,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He had some really good at-bats.”
Maddon said he is impressed with Joyce’s ability not to expand his strike zone against lefties. And Joyce’s three hits against lefties in the past two games will earn Joyce more opportunities.
“Right now he’s obviously earned his stripes,” Maddon said.