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Joyce's all-around game draws high praise

ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Joyce reported having no trouble sleeping after hitting a walk-off home run Wednesday night in the Rays' 8-7 win against the Orioles.

"That's a good night sleep," Joyce said. "Those are the nights you don't have to worry about anything. You just close your eyes and know that it was a good day."

Joyce's blast was the first walk-off homer of his career. Asked if he had any other memorable walk-off homers at any other level of play, Joyce conceded: "It might be my first one."

Not only did Joyce hit the game-winning homer, he also started a four-run rally in the seventh, when he pushed a bunt to the left side of the diamond against the shifted Orioles defense. The Rays slugger said bunting could become a part of his game.

"Oh yeah, if they give you the opportunity, that's a free hit," Joyce said. "Anytime they're going to give you a free hit, you have to take it.

"No matter who you are, you're not going to go up there and hit a home run all the time, especially when you want to. You have to learn to do the little things right. For us to win and to make the playoffs and be a great team, we have to do all the little things right."

Rays manager Joe Maddon liked the game Joyce put on display Wednesday night.

"Mickey [Mantle] used to do that stuff," Maddon said. "The combination of speed and power -- Mickey Joyce. I loved that. I loved all of that."

Joyce seemed flattered by his manager's words.

"That's probably one of the best compliments a player can ever receive," Joyce said. "Mick was my dad's favorite player growing up. I still have to work on my right-handed hitting, but that's a pretty cool compliment."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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