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08/12/09 5:21 PM ET
Rays' homer streak shows versatility
Speedy club puts together 15-game long-ball stretch
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- The Rays did not hit a home run in Tuesday night's loss to the Angels, snapping a club-record 15 straight games in which a player had hit a home run. Carlos Pena, who leads the team in home runs with 31, was asked if he was surprised about the club's streak. "Oh, yes, extremely surprised, that's awesome," said Pena with his customary smile. While Pena was surprised that the Rays had put together such a lengthy streak, he knows what the team is capable of doing. "We can hit," Pena said. "This is a very good hitting club. And if you look around, it's a young, young club, so it should tell you you're going to see this for years to come." Pena acknowledged that most consider the Rays a fast, young team, but rarely does anybody speak about the team's power. "We've got guys like [Ben] Zobrist, who has come through with us in such a way, it's unbelievable," Pena said. "Carl [Crawford] has been swinging the bat with power also. Look at [Jason] Bartlett. One through nine, you can get taken deep. And I think that's a huge benefit for a lineup. For a pitcher, just to know that at any given second, facing our lineup, the chances are greater that you will give it up since everyone in the lineup can tag you for a home run any given day." Rays manager Joe Maddon elaborated on what he thought such a streak said about his club. "The thing I talked about during Spring Training, everybody always talks about our speed," Maddon said. "But we have a pretty nice combination of speed and power. And that's why I think we can play well at the end of the year in September and October, because you're going to see good pitching. And you're going to have to beat them some days with your legs and some days with your bats. "I just liked the idea that we are that combination. I think that's what I read into that more than anything. We're still leading the league in stolen bases. We're up around the top at home runs also. That's a good combination, too. But I just see it as a nice combination of speed and power."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.