Notes: Rays rising in standings

Notes: Rays rising in standings

ST. PETERSBURG -- By defeating the Twins, 6-4, Thursday night, the Devil Rays moved into a tie for second place with the Blue Jays in the American League East, 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.

For the Rays, their elevated place in the standings is their highest this deep into a season since May 8, 1999.

While winning their second season series against the Twins in team history was no small feat, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon opted to temper his enthusiasm in hopes that his team will respond well to success.

"One of our concerns is, we do a couple of good things and we have a tendency to relax a little bit, and we think we're pretty good sometimes," Maddon said. "We're getting better. I don't want us to relax. I want us to keep pushing."

Upton atop the AL: Entering Friday night's action, Rays second baseman B.J. Upton was leading the American League in hitting with a .381 average, marking the only time a Rays player has led the league in hitting at this point of the season.

In addition, Upton is tied or leading the team in home runs (five) and RBIs (21). He also is leading the league (second in the Majors) with a .560 mark with runners in scoring position, more than 100 points higher than the next closest player. Cleveland's Victor Martinez is at .452.

Upton's .365 April average was the second best April average in team history, just shy of Rocco Baldelli's .368 in 2003. Upton has been especially hot in the team's 13 games since April 20. In those games, he is hitting .432 (19-for-44) with six doubles, four home runs and 14 RBIs.

"He's hitting the ball on the fat part of the bat," Maddon said. "He doesn't seem to be intimidated or upset about anything. ... It's a real man's hack he's got going on now. He's got a forceful swing."

Pregame workout: The Rays went through a pregame workout stressing fundamentals before Friday's batting practice.

"We want to start doing this on a more consistent basis," said Maddon, who stressed that the workout had been planned in advance because he did not want such workouts to be punitive.

"Historically [baseball is] more reactionary," Maddon said. "I would like us to stay ahead of our problems. ... As the season progresses, I want us to stop making the same mistakes that cost us games."

Pink bats ready for Mother's Day: To support breast cancer awareness, the Rays, like other teams in the Major Leagues, will have pink bats available for use on Mother's Day.

According to Chris Westmoreland, the equipment and home clubhouse manager, each player will have two pink bats, which have arrived from approximately five bat manufacturers. One will be used for a charity auction and the other will be for the player to keep.

El Asesino: Al Reyes, a.k.a. "El Asesino," is a perfect 10-for-10 in save situations this season, tying for the most in the Major Leagues. With the save he collected Thursday night against the Twins, he became the fastest to 10 saves in club history. Roberto Hernandez held the previous mark when he reached 10 on May 5, 1999.

In addition, Reyes has tied Danys Baez's mark for the most consecutive saves to start a season. Reyes has held opponents to a .111 average (5-for-45), including just 1-for-31 (.032) in save situations. The only runs he has allowed were against the Yankees on April 23, when Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer off him in a non-save situation.

TV changes: The Rays' television schedule has undergone the following changes: FSN Florida will pick up the June 9 game against the Marlins to make up for the April 4 rainout in New York. FSN also will pick up the Aug. 6 game at Detroit and drop the Sept. 29 game at Toronto. ION drops the Aug. 6 game against the Tigers to pick up the evening game in the July 21 Rays-Yankees day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.

This and that: After Brendan Harris had a career-high three hits Thursday night, the Rays have 26 hits out of their ninth spot, which ranks second in the Major Leagues behind the Blue Jays. ... The Rays have homered in 11 of 14 home games this season.

Up next: The Rays will play the A's in the second game of their three-game series Saturday night in a 7:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Left-hander Scott Kazmir will start for Tampa Bay, and he will be opposed by southpaw Joe Kennedy.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.