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Tropicana Field woes no longer hang over Vogt

Catcher has 3-RBI day against former team
Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Stephen Vogt and Tropicana Field have hardly been friendly toward one another over the years.

While Vogt has evolved as a Major League hitter since an 0-for-25 start at the plate as a rookie with the Rays in 2012 led to his acquisition by the Athletics, his struggles under the dome never ceased -- even as he rose to become a two-time All-Star.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Stephen Vogt and Tropicana Field have hardly been friendly toward one another over the years.

While Vogt has evolved as a Major League hitter since an 0-for-25 start at the plate as a rookie with the Rays in 2012 led to his acquisition by the Athletics, his struggles under the dome never ceased -- even as he rose to become a two-time All-Star.

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Entering Oakland's 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday, Vogt had just four hits in 41 career plate appearances at the Trop, one of which came as a seventh-inning solo shot on Friday. The outlook was not much better facing his former team, against which he owned a .153 lifetime average.

But Vogt's fortune changed Sunday. He singled home two runs in his first plate appearance against Tampa Bay ace Chris Archer, then followed up with an RBI double in the fourth.

Video: OAK@TB: Vogt drives in two with a single to center

For the 32-year-old Vogt, there was not anything unique to the way he approached the series. His best explanation? Time.

"I'm a completely different player than the last time I had a majority of my at-bats here," Vogt said. "It's been four years. I'm a better hitter. I'm more established now. I'm more confident."

That has shown in a big way this season. After batting .286 through the first seven games, Vogt slumped to a 9-for-58 mark in the 21 that followed. Since then, he's hit .267 over his last 18 contests.

His former team certainly took notice of the change.

"[Vogt is a] very good hitter," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I think even the play -- the 0-2 pitch that Vogt hit for the third RBI -- was a ball that Mallex [Smith] lost just for a second. That stunk. But yes, Vogty's a very good hitter."

Even as the A's dropped nine games below .500 with their 23rd road defeat, Vogt was upbeat because of the way Oakland competed.

"We were in the last three games," he said. "We felt like we had a good chance to win all three of those, and obviously came up short in two of them. We did a lot of really, really good things in this series."

Jeff Odom is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.

Oakland Athletics, Stephen Vogt