Notes: Upton back in lineup at DH
Slugger hits cleanup after pinch-hit walk-off shot on Saturday
ST. PETERSBURG -- A day after hitting a walk-off, two-run homer to give the Rays a 5-4 win Saturday night, B.J. Upton was back in the lineup on Sunday, but at designated hitter rather than center field.
"We just feel if we give him one more day off with his foot like that he should be pretty good to play the outfield tomorrow," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We just thought one more day would be the best thing to do."
Upton became a late scratch from the lineup on Saturday night after fouling a ball off the top of his left ankle in the ninth inning of the previous night's game. Running aggravated the injury, so the Rays everyday center fielder was available only for pinch-hitting duties, which turned out to be a good thing. The pinch-hitting appearance was Upton's first of the season, but he had a .667 (2-for-3) career average as a pinch-hitter heading into the game.
"In the beginning [Sunday] he said he was good to go," Maddon said. "But I could see it in his face, it was more of a 'win for the Gipper' kind of look. [Trainer] Ronnie [Porterfield] felt better about doing it this way and I'm good with that."
Maddon said Upton will likely start in center field on Monday night at Fenway Park.
"The softer field might help him out a little bit," Maddon said.
Revisiting Saturday night, Maddon continued to marvel at Upton's feat.
"The thing that I'm surprised at -- has B.J. ever [pinch-hit before]?" Maddon said. "It was a good pitch, he dug it out and went the other way."
Offense cooking: The Rays have scored 125 runs in their last 15 games (8.3 per game) -- the most runs they have ever scored over a 15-game span in club history. Since 2001, only three teams have scored more runs over a 15-game span: 2007 Yankees (144 in July), 2006 Braves (132 in July), and the 2004 Astros (126 in August).
Since August 24, the Rays are third in the Major Leagues and first in the American League in batting (.311), first in the Majors in runs (125), first in the Majors in home runs (29), and first in the Majors in slugging percentage (.555).
Ninth-inning comebacks: Ninth-inning home runs by Delmon Young and Upton led Saturday night's 5-4 win over the Blue Jays that saw the Rays erase a 4-1 deficit. The comeback matched the Rays' second-greatest ninth-inning comeback win ever. The others were:
-- July 23, 2002 at Boston: The Rays were down 4-0 and scored five times in the ninth to win 5-4. Jared Sandberg's three-run homer off Ugueth Urbina capped it.
-- March 31, 2003 vs. Boston: Down 4-1, the Rays won 6-4 on Carl Crawford's two out, three-run walk-off homer off Chad Fox.
Navvy turnaround: Dioner Navarro has batted .301 (37-for-123) since the All-Star break, after hitting .177 prior to the break. To date, that 124-point jump is the greatest increase between the first and second halves in the Major Leagues this season. Second is the Phillies' Pat Burrell, whose .324 post All-Star break average is 109 points greater than his first-half mark of .215; next is Houston's Luke Scott (plus 93 points).
Velandia on the way: The Rays selected infielder Jorge Velandia from Triple-A Durham Sunday and they will make a corresponding move to the 40-man roster on Monday.
Velandia hit .249 with five home runs and 32 RBIs during the regular season for the Bulls.
Velandia, 32, will be used as a backup at shortstop and second base.
Minor League update: Three of the Rays Minor League teams are still active in the postseason, here's where they stand:
Triple-A Durham (International League) swept Toledo (Tigers) 3-0 in the semi-finals and will host Richmond (Braves) in the best-of-five Governor's Cup Championship beginning Tuesday.
Double-A Montgomery (Southern League) beat Mississippi (Braves) 6-5 on Saturday night. The 11-inning win gave the Biscuits a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. Games 4 and 5 (if necessary) will also be in Montgomery.
Class A Columbus (South Atlantic League) swept Augusta (Giants) 2-0 in the semi-finals and will play West Virginia (Brewers) in the best-of-five championship series beginning Monday (at West Virginia).
Up next: The Rays travel to Boston after Sunday's game to play a three-game series beginning Monday night in a 7:05 p.m. ET contest at Fenway Park. Left-hander Scott Kazmir will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Curt Schilling.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.