Joyce repeating early-season success

Joyce repeating early-season success

Joyce repeating early-season success
ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Joyce entered Sunday's game in the midst of a hot streak.

In his last five games he has hit three home runs, two doubles and has three RBIs in addition to scoring eight runs.

He has hit safely in eight of his last nine games, batting .375 (12.-for-32) during that span.

In 2011, Joyce experienced a torrid spell in April and May when he hit .370 over a 51-game period with nine home runs and 30 RBIs.

Could that be happening again?

"You know, some guys are pattern kind of guys," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "And last year it was earlier in the season for him at that point. I don't see why it can't happen if we keep putting him on the right guys.

"Certain lefties I want to play him against. I don't want to play him against all lefties, I think that would hurt him instead of helping him. Up to this point, he's done a nice job and he can get hot, yes."

Maddon pointed out that Joyce "kills righties," citing the fact that Joyce hit .292 against right-handers in 2011 while hitting just .217 against lefties.

"The thing that's hard to calculate is how much does your confidence suffer because you have a couple of bad days against a left-hander?" Maddon said. "[Like] 'I think there's something wrong with my swing. I think I have to do something differently.' When that's the farthest thing from the truth, that's what you think. So those are the kind of things also that impact a baseball player and his mind that we have to be careful with, too."