D-backs strike first over Rays: 'We made a big statement'

June 28th, 2023

PHOENIX -- With the Rays in town for a three-game series, the D-backs have yet another chance to measure themselves against, in this case, the team with the best record in baseball.

So far, it seems, they stack up pretty well.

The D-backs roughed up Rays starter Taj Bradley for five runs in the first inning en route to an 8-4 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday night at Chase Field.

“I think the most impressive thing was we made a big statement in the bottom of the first inning,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “We came out ready to swing the bat.”

That they did. delivered the big blow in that first inning with a three-run homer, and followed with a solo shot.

Handing a big lead like that to ace  usually a guaranteed victory, but the Rays showed some fight in the second, scoring four runs off Gallen, including two on wild pitches.

“In terms of how I felt, it's probably the best I've felt in a while,” Gallen said. “Felt really synced up. Arm felt lively, felt like the ball was coming out of my hand pretty good. Obviously the second was just kind of weird, but maybe it's just one of those things that happens. Some things just to look at and just learn from.”

What did he learn from that inning?

“With the five-run lead, I mean, no matter what, I'm still pitching like it’s 0-0,” Gallen said. “So that's probably a situation where instead of maybe going for the strikeout, just be OK just getting some early outs, trading a run for an out really. I felt like I had some pretty good sequences in the back of my mind to get a strikeout and just had two batters 0-2 and couldn’t execute. [In the future], take a look at the scoreboard and maybe be a little bit more in the moment, as opposed to just kind of treating everything 0-0.”

Gallen settled in after that frame and did not allow another run through the sixth, before turning it over to the bullpen.

Meanwhile, the D-backs’ offense continued to tack on runs. and hit solo homers in the third and fourth innings and Geraldo Perdomo added a sac fly in the sixth to give Arizona a nice cushion.

For Longoria, it was a noteworthy home run.

Drafted by Tampa Bay with the third overall pick in 2006, Longoria spent 10 seasons with the Rays. Tuesday’s homer was his first against them, and it gave him a homer against all 30 current big league teams. He is one of just 70 MLB players to accomplish that feat, which “was news to me after the game,” Longoria said.

“I know that he's done some unbelievably cool things this year,” Lovullo said.

The D-backs have done some pretty cool things as well. Two years ago, they lost 110 games. Last year, they took a big step forward with 74 wins. And while they were expected to improve even more this year, not many people picked them to be leading the National League West at nearly the halfway point of the season.

But that’s where they are, 2 1/2 games in front of the second-place Giants and three games ahead of the Dodgers.

A good series against the Rays would be yet another step forward.

“It's something that I don't think we necessarily think about,” Longoria said, “but when you do play teams, good teams like this, and you have the kind of game we had today, yeah, I definitely think it has the ability to give you confidence going forward.”