Notes: Devil Rays a delight for Thomas
Glaus available to pinch-hit; Johnson leads painful category
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- There's just something about facing the Devil Rays that makes Frank Thomas smile.
Don't get him wrong, baseball is still baseball wherever he goes, but with a nine-game hitting streak against Tampa Bay and a .400 average since 2004 entering Sunday's game, it's hard not to look forward to facing his American League East foe.
"It's a good place to hit," Thomas said, of the Rays' home at Tropicana Field. "I really like hitting here. It's just when I come to Florida, I don't know what it is. I guess this is where I got my start in my career, I really don't know why."
The 38-year-old slugger has a reason to enjoy Tropicana Field. At .343 (35-for-102), he hits better inside the domed stadium than any other park in which he's played more than 10 games, save Tiger Stadium, where he had a .355 average. In addition, Thomas has had hits in 17 of his last 19 games against the Rays dating back to 2004, and is 24-for-60 during that time with seven homers.
Saturday night's 453-foot blast was one of the more exciting he'd sent out of the park in St. Petersburg. For starters, it marked Thomas' first home run in a Blue Jays uniform. It came with two outs in the inning and placed him just five shy of tying Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff at 21st on the all-time list. Oh, and the bases were loaded when he let loose, marking the ninth grand slam in Thomas' career.
"I wasn't trying to hit one, I was just trying to get a run in," he said afterward. "Good things happen when you go about your business in the right way, and we needed it. After that loss [on Friday], we were really frustrated, and we wanted to come out and put some runs on the board."
Thomas is satisfied with his homer totals so far -- his Saturday night blast put him just 12 shy of the 500 benchmark, by the way -- but he's focused on hanging in long enough to go much, much higher.
Fifteen more games against Tampa Bay before the season's out doesn't hurt any, either.
"My goal is 600," Thomas said. "When I get to 500 I'll be happy -- I'll be extremely happy -- but I've got my focus somewhere else. I don't want to get caught up trying to get to 500, because that could be a long, long chase."
Glaus update: Troy Glaus was held out of Sunday's lineup after leaving Saturday night's game in the fifth inning. Toronto manager John Gibbons said, however, that his third baseman would be available to pinch-hit should the need arise. Glaus, who aggravated the Achilles tendon in his left leg coming out of the batter's box in the first inning, remains day-to-day.
Painful memories: Left fielder Reed Johnson was hit by a pitch Saturday night for the second time this season, putting him in a tie for the AL lead in the category with Oakland's Mark Ellis, Baltimore's Corey Patterson and Chicago's Jermaine Dye.
It's not an unfamiliar place, as Johnson led the league last year after being plunked 21 times. He's been hit 71 times in his career, second in Toronto history only to Carlos Delgado (122).
Did you know? Sunday's starter Roy Halladay is second all-time in the category of fastest average nine-inning games in which he's pitched over the last five years. Halladay's 2-hour, 37-minute game average is just longer than the White Sox Mark Buehrle, the quickest pitcher in the Majors.
Up next: Toronto heads home to the Rogers Centre for its home opener against the Royals on Monday. Right-hander A.J. Burnett will do the honors of starting for the Jays, and he'll oppose lefty Odalis Perez. Game time is set for 7:15 p.m. ET.
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.