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Casali delivers with 2 jacks from No. 9 spot

Catcher starts third straight game, gives Rays key insurance runs

ST. PETERSBURG -- Curt Casali doubled down Monday night.

Starting his third consecutive game, the Rays' reserve catcher homered twice from the ninth spot in the order to lead a 5-2 win over the Tigers at Tropicana Field.

"The only thing that matters to me is we got the win," Casali said. "Fortunately for me, I got a couple of good pitches to hit to help out. Hope I can keep doing that."

Casali's first home run came in the third off Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez, giving the Rays a 1-0 lead.

"I was looking for a fastball for sure," Casali said. "The guys in front of me, I don't know how many of the eight got to a full count. They really grinded them out. And fortunately, that left me in a good position to get a fastball early and put a pretty good swing on it."

Casali's second came in the eighth off Bruce Rondon, and it couldn't have come at a better time, since it came with a man aboard and pushed the Rays' lead to a more comfortable three runs rather than one heading into the ninth inning.

Video: [email protected]: Casali belts two homers in win over Tigers

The homer hit off the B-ring catwalk, and it is believed to be the first home run to deflect off that catwalk for a home run since Frank Thomas did it while playing for the White Sox on April 4, 1998, the fifth game ever played at Tropicana Field.

Initially, Casali was not sure if the blast was a home run.

"I was just trying to run hard," Casali said. "I asked the umpire, 'Is that a home run?' He kind of gave me a confused look and said, 'Yeah.' ... In the box score, that's what it is. That's all that matters. It was fun, definitely an interesting home run."

Added Rays manager Kevin Cash: "I asked the guys that have seen a lot more games than me. I haven't seen that, and I don't think anybody else has. It still got out of the ballpark.

"Asking Curt, with or without a ring, it was a home run there. He smoked two of them tonight."

Casali noted that he's been seeing the ball well lately.

"Just a slight adjustment with my stance has allowed me to see the ball better," Casali said. "I'm going to continue to try and string together some hits. They might not be home runs, but I don't mind when they come."

Cash, while pleased with Casali's work, noted that the Rays expect great things from starting catcher Rene Rivera down the stretch.

Casali would like to be in the lineup more, but said he had to earn that right. In the meantime, he added, "Anything I can do to help."

"We're struggling," Casali said. "Tonight was a really good night. We just have to keep building on these kinds of nights, because they haven't happened as frequently as we wanted them to. But I think tonight's a good start against a good team. So we'll come out tomorrow and try and do the exact same thing."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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