5/2/2014 8:07 P.M. ET
Thanks to 'Aussie Rage,' Balfour makes Rays history
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Closer Grant Balfour became the first pitcher in Rays franchise history to record saves in both games of a doubleheader, which he accomplished in Thursday's twin bill against the Red Sox.
In addition, he became the first to record two saves on the same day since Kansas City's Greg Holland did so at Detroit on Aug. 16, 2013.
In the ninth inning of Thursday's first game, Balfour insisted during a mound visit from manager Joe Maddon that he pitch to David Ortiz with two outs rather than intentionally walking the slugger with an open base. He then retired Ortiz on a groundout back to the box for the final out of the game.
By the time the end of the second game rolled around, Balfour needed everything he could muster from his reserve of "Aussie Rage" to claim the save and preserve the win.
Tasked with protecting a one-run lead, Balfour entered the game in the bottom of the ninth and surrendered a leadoff double to Shane Victorino. Ortiz then grounded out to first, allowing Victorino to advance to third with one out.
Balfour struck out Mike Napoli for the second out before walking Grady Sizemore to put the potential winning run onboard with Xander Bogaerts stepping to the plate. The count was 2-2 when Bogaerts watched an 84-mph slider cross the plate for strike three to end the game.
Balfour's two-save heroics came after a tough blown save against the White Sox in his previous appearance, prompting Maddon to note that what Balfour accomplished on Thursday was "very valuable."
"The game in Chicago, he came in after that, and he was really upset with himself," Maddon said. "And he knew that a big part of that was the fact that he did not pitch like he normally would -- meaning not nearly as aggressive, giving the hitter way too much credit.
"So even in the first game yesterday, wanting to pitch to that particular left-handed hitter [Ortiz], that told me a lot. And in the second game, Victorino leads off with a double. Then he gets advanced, and he's got some pretty good hitters up there to go punch, punch to end the game. That's pretty impressive, too.
"So I want to believe, and I've got to believe that moving forward, based on what he did yesterday, it's got to really pick up his confidence a lot."
Myers pleased where he is, hitting-wise
NEW YORK -- Wil Myers' seven-game hitting streak was snapped in the first game of Thursday's doubleheader against the Red Sox, but the reigning American League Rookie of the Year feels good about where he is with his hitting.
"The last three or four days, I've really felt comfortable. ... I feel really good in the box right now, I just haven't had results -- that's a little frustrating -- but as far as the confidence level, I feel good in the box," Myers said. "I feel like I'm going to do something every pitch. I just haven't had the results right now. So I feel like something's going to turn at any point."
Although Myers' hitting streak was snapped, he played an integral role in the win when he drew a walk against Jake Peavy in the fourth after being down, 0-2, in the count. David DeJesus followed with a walk to drive in what turned out to be the winning run in a 2-1 Rays win.
"Obviously, I saw the ball well [during that at-bat]," Myers said. "That battle with Peavy was really good, just to come back from 0-2 to battle back and get the walk."
Manager Joe Maddon praised Myers for the at-bat against Peavy, who threw some pretty tempting pitches to Myers after getting ahead in the count.
Peavy "was not going to throw Wil a strike there, and to Wil's credit, he did not swing at a pitch outside the zone," Maddon said. "If Wil continues to keep his strike zone in order, he will hit to the level that he did last year and even more than that."
Banged-up Rays progressing well
NEW YORK -- The Rays have started the season somewhat banged up, but for the most part, all of the injured players seem to be progressing well.
For starters, there are the starters, left-hander Matt Moore and right-handers Alex Cobb and Jeremy Hellickson. Although it's been tough to have three of the five regular starters on the disabled list, there is hope that two can return quickly.
Moore won't be back this season, as he underwent Tommy John surgery, but he is attacking his rehab, as he said he would, and is already doing range-of-motion exercises for his elbow in addition to exercises to keep his shoulder strong.
Cobb (strained left oblique) is doing well enough to create speculation that he could return as quickly as late May-early June at the latest.
Hellickson (surgery on right elbow) has not had any major setbacks, leaving the Rays with the impression that he can return by late June.
Infielder Tim Beckham, the No. 1 pick of the 2008 Draft, tore his right ACL, which required surgery in December. Thus he is four months past surgery and can be expected to be ready to play at the six-month mark. He should be on the field after the All-Star break.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.