08/30/10 12:27 AM ET
Johnson's blast reverberates into Sunday
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
"That was legit," Carlos Pena said. "That was awesome and for that to be him, that was even better. One, because everyone here holds him very, you know, dearly. We love him. So we were very happy for him. But what does it mean for us? That was a huge hit."
Some joked that Johnson's success against the Red Sox would bring the addition of an expletive to his name among Boston fans as successes by Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone did. Pena believes that will happen.
"Yeah, no doubt about it," Pena said. "That hurt, you know?"
Matt Joyce and Johnson were teammates at Triple-A Durham for much of the season, leaving Joyce to note, "Oh man, I was so pumped for him."
"With the kind of power he has, and the hitter he is, I told him it took him long enough to do it," Joyce said. "But I guess he was just waiting for the right time."
Lance Cormier and the rest of the bullpen had a good view of the blast and heard a premonition prior to Johnson coming through.
"The coolest part was at the beginning of the inning, [bullpen catcher Scott] Cursi keeps a chart and finally he hands the chart to [John] Jaso and goes, 'Just write that down as Jack Johnson,' like Johnson is going to jack it," Cormier said. "Jaso was like, 'What?' And Cursi says, 'That's Jack Johnson as in game-winner.' Then, blam."
Once the ball cleared the fence, the bullpen charged.
"When that happens, we grab our gloves and take off as fast as we can so we can try and get to the plate before him," Cormier said. "His home run trot, we're going to have to work on getting him to slow down a little bit so the bullpen can make it there. You want to be there right when he hits the plate, and we were just a little bit behind. It was very good, a very fun way to win a game."
Crawford's 100th HR puts him in elite group
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays outfielder Carl Crawford hit the 100th home run of his career in the sixth inning of Sunday night's 5-3 win over the Red Sox at Tropicana Field.
Crawford's homer came on an 0-1 pitch from Boston starter John Lackey. Not only did his two-run blast tie the score for the Rays, it added another career accomplishment for the player who has already had a distinguished career.
"Carl just put a charge in that," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Crawford's 100th home run combined with his 403 stolen bases and 100 triples made him the eighth player in Major League history to reach 100 home runs, 100 triples and 400 stolen bases.
Players who have also achieved these marks include Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Lou Brock, Frankie Frisch, Kenny Lofton, Paul Molitor and Tim Raines. All but Lofton and Raines are in the Hall of Fame.
"Feels good," Crawford said. "I'm proud to be in elite company. It makes me want to see how far I can go. I felt I hit it pretty good. I thought it had a chance to go out and it did."
In addition, Crawford's home run broke a tie with Fred McGriff to move into third place on the Rays' all-time home run list.
Crawford now has 15 blasts for the season, leaving him three short of his career high. But Crawford said not to read too much into his power, he's still going to be known more for his speed.
"[Hitting homers] definitely shows that I'm improving at the plate in that area, so it's always good when you're showing improvement," Crawford said. "But [as far as] trying to classify myself as a home run hitter, I'm not really trying to do that."
Balfour struggles in first rehab appearance
ST. PETERSBURG -- Grant Balfour pitched for Class A Charlotte on Saturday and allowed two hits, three walks, three runs (two earned) and struck out two in two-thirds of an inning in his first rehab stint.
Balfour was the starting pitcher for the Stone Crabs against Bradenton at McKechnie Field. He is coming back from an intercostals strain, said he pitched poorly, but felt fine afterward.
"Nothing hurt, everything was fine," Balfour said. "Felt like I haven't pitched in a month and that's how it's been. You lose it. Can't flick the switch and be right back where you were.
"There's a lot to be said for going out there every couple of days. You keep everything sharp. You're locked in. And it's all right there. When you don't throw for two to three weeks, you start playing catch and you have to get back into shape again."
Balfour managed to keep his sense of humor. When asked what the difference was with his command in terms of inches, he smiled then responded in his Aussie accent, "Probably a few inches, probably talking feet."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Balfour said the important thing about his outing was that he felt fine afterward. Balfour is scheduled to pitch Monday and is expected to return to the Rays on Wednesday.
"Nothing is ever automatic in this game," said Balfour when asked if he would still be back by Sept. 1. "No one said, 'You're coming back on the first.' Not like I've been told that anyway. I figured that would happen. But if I feel like I need another game, they'll give me another game or maybe just face some hitters here."
Maddon said that prior to Balfour getting injured, he thought about stacking his bullpen where he would designate the seventh to Balfour followed by Joaquin Benoit in the eighth and Rafael Soriano in the ninth.
Rays' Hawpe takes BP with new team
ST. PETERSBURG -- Recently acquired outfielder Brad Hawpe batted three times as the DH for Charlotte on Saturday and went 0-for-2 with a walk, but Rays manager Joe Maddon reported that Hawpe hit the ball well.
Hawpe took batting practice at Tropicana Field prior to Sunday night's game and he's getting acclimated to his new surroundings. He'll play for Charlotte on Monday and will likely join the Rays on Sept. 1.
While there are many new faces in the clubhouse for Hawpe, he knew several of the players, particularly catcher Kelly Shoppach as both went to Dallas area high schools and competed against each other. Hawpe attended Boswell High School and Shoppach attended Brewer High.
"He was the man," Hawpe said. "Good football player. He was good. He broke through some people, I remember that."
Shoppach said he always felt like Hawpe "was killing me" when Hawpe hit against him.
"I remember one time he hit a ball over at his stadium, his high school, and he hit a ball in the lights in right field off me," Shoppach said. "And at the time, it was like the furthest ball we'd ever seen hit. We were all just amazed at how good he was."
Hawpe remembered Shoppach as a tough out too, which wasn't too much of a stretch given the fact the Rays catcher hit .526 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs as a senior.
"He probably hit some [home runs] off me, too," Hawpe said. "I remember I always pitched real good against his team whenever I was pitching, but he would get like two or three hits. I would strike out 12 or 15 batters, walk six or eight, because that's what I did. Give up three hits and he was 3-for-3 every time."
Fans can enter a drawing to win the BRayser worn by B.J. Upton during the last road trip by logging on to mcgraffle.com/upton. Tickets are $15, with the proceeds going to the Childs Park and Wildwood recreation centers in South St. Petersburg. ... Rays hitters lead the Major Leagues in walks with 539 and they lead the American League in strikeouts with 1,017. ... Since June 22, the Rays have made 20 errors in 60 games, two fewer than any other club (San Diego, 22) and 10 fewer than any other AL club (New York, 30). ... Rafael Soriano continues to lead the Major Leagues with 38 saves, leaving him five short of the club record of 43 set by Roberto Hernandez in 1999.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.