BOSTON -- With a two-run lead in hand, Logan Morrison struck a big blow for the Rays in the third inning at Fenway Park on Friday night, connecting for his first Major League grand slam to put Tampa Bay in cruise control during a 10-5 win over the Red Sox.
Defending American League Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello loaded the bases after retiring Kevin Kiermaier to lead off the inning, and after running the count to 2-0, left an 82 mph offspeed offering in the middle of the zone.
Morrison readily pounced on the pitch, which according to Statcast™ had a 90 percent hit probability, and deposited Porcello's folly 424 feet into the right field grandstand, smoking it off the bat with an exit velocity of 106 mph at a 31 degree angle.
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"I felt like [Porcello] didn't command his offspeed pitches the way he usually does, nor his heater," Morrison said. "He didn't really have a feel for the inside pitch to lefties. He was leaving it middle when he was coming in. If it wasn't middle, it was well off."
And Morrison was game for taking advantage of the night, doubling to deep center and scoring in the first inning, having solved the Porcello riddle early on.
"The 2-0 [pitch], I figured it was going to be a heater right there, and it was up and away," he said of his first at-bat. "That was a little different; he doesn't usually do that. On 3-1, he dotted on the outside corner, I was like, 'OK, it's still him.' Then he left one middle-in for me to hit to center field. Usually, when he's on the corners there's not much ball in the middle of the plate when he's pitching."
Morrison has paced the offense out of the gates in his second season with the Rays, hitting .333 through over the first 11 games of the season, with a team-best three home runs and 10 RBIs.
"There have been some guys that have been quiet here to start the season," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "LoMo's done a tremendous job for us here early on, picking up some guys that haven't gotten off to the hottest start. Right now, he's barreling everything, he's feeling really confident at the plate and he's playing with a lot of confidence overall."
Morrison hit just .238 with 14 home runs and 43 RBIs in 2016, but now he is getting a better feel for the opposing pitchers that he was not used to seeing much a year ago. As Cash alluded to, it has boosted the first baseman's confidence in the process.
"I would think that, judging it off last year, the comfort level is way better," Morrison said. "It's not anything like on the surface, it's more of just being comfortable with pitchers I've seen before, not having seen them last year, and kind of knowing what they want to do. Also, myself not trying to do too much. Get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it, that's all you can do."
On Friday night, he put two good swings on it, to again pace the Rays to victory.