Rays roll to opening win in Arizona
Hammel earns first win, adds RBI double to offensive onslaught
PHOENIX -- Yeah, the Diamondbacks have captured a World Series during the period of time since they joined the ranks of the Major Leagues, but they have yet to defeat their expansion twin, the Devil Rays.
The latest tilt between the franchises that began play in 1998 resulted in a 10-2 Rays win Monday night in front of a crowd of 18,963 at Chase Field to move the Rays' all-time record against the Diamondbacks to 7-0.
"It's just one of those anomaly things. Who knows why?" Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We got Tampa Bay and the beautiful beaches of Clearwater and Sarasota. We do OK for ourselves. We'll get our championship."
The Rays made the opening game of their three-game Interleague series look easy, which is the case for most teams when quality pitching is complemented by ample offense.
Much maligned Edwin Jackson gave an improved effort over his previous start Wednesday against the Padres, when he was chased in the first inning after retiring just one batter.
On Monday, Jackson pitched two scoreless innings before struggling to find the strike zone in the third, when he walked two and got touched for two runs on a sacrifice fly by Conor Jackson and an RBI double by Orlando Hudson that cut the Rays' lead to 3-2. But Jackson returned to pitch a scoreless fourth and had two outs in the fifth when he had to leave the game with cramping and fatigue in his right index finger tendon.
After getting strike two on Chad Tracy, the Rays right-hander began to shake his right hand as if something wasn't right. Maddon and head trainer Ron Porterfield made their way to the mound, and after some lively discussion, Jackson handed over the ball.
"Just a little cramping up, something I've had a few years back," Jackson said. "Nothing serious. It just tightens up sometimes after a pitch."
Jackson said he felt like he would make his next start.
"Definitely. It doesn't hurt now," Jackson said.
Jason Hammel took over for Jackson and struck out Tracy to end the inning. The rookie right-hander went on to pitch 2 1/3 innings to pick up his first Major League win.
"I kind of vultured that one," Hammel said. "Either way you get a win, it's still great. We pitched and hit tonight, so that was the bottom line."
The Rays pounded out 16 hits and scored in every inning except the fourth and fifth. Leading the way were Jonny Gomes and Brendan Harris.
Gomes, who had two home runs Sunday, hit another in the second inning Monday night and added an RBI double for good measure. The burly slugger is locked in after going 10-for-19 with four doubles and four homers in the five games he's started since being recalled from Triple-A Durham on Wednesday.
"I just have to keep riding this," Gomes said. "This game is peaks and valleys. I'm swinging at strikes and taking balls -- that's all I can ask for. I definitely think it's about at-bats for me. I've got a really high maintenance swing. I've got it under control, but there is so much that can go wrong. I'd never teach a kid to hit like me ... just a real high maintenance swing."
Harris hit his eighth home run of the season and added a triple and a single to fall a double short of the cycle. On Saturday night, he fell a triple short.
Also included in the Rays' hit parade were two hits by pitchers. Jackson had an infield single in the fifth and Hammel had an RBI double in his first Major League at-bat in the sixth.
"That's probably going to be my only at-bat for the year, so I'm batting 1.000 against Major League pitching," said Hammel with a little chuckle.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.