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Rays show off 'laser show' power display

Club hit 16 balls 100-plus mph in Wednesday's win over Orioles
@juanctoribio
April 17, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- “Today?” asked Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, when told that Tampa Bay finished with a team record 16 balls in play with an exit velocity of 100 mph or higher in Wednesday’s 8-1 win over the Orioles. “That seems fake. That’s so stupid, to be honest. Wow, that’s

ST. PETERSBURG -- “Today?” asked Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, when told that Tampa Bay finished with a team record 16 balls in play with an exit velocity of 100 mph or higher in Wednesday’s 8-1 win over the Orioles. “That seems fake. That’s so stupid, to be honest. Wow, that’s incredible.”

Look at the numbers: 115.4, 102.3, 97.1, 105.6 and 108.9 mph were the exit velocities produced by the first five Tampa Bay hitters on Wednesday. But the power attack didn’t end there. The first time through the lineup, all nine Rays hitters put the ball in play against Orioles starter David Hess, with an average exit velocity of 102.7 mph. Overall, 10 of the first 13 Rays hitters had exit velocities of 100 mph or higher. The combined exit velocity of the first 10 Rays at-bats totaled 1,028.4 mph.

“I can’t say I’ve seen a game where we’ve put that many together with anybody I’ve played with,” said Rays catcher Mike Zunino, who finished with three hits Wednesday as the Rays won their sixth straight series to open the season. “I think it just goes to our approach. I think guys know what they’re doing. Guys trust themselves and we’re going through a good stretch right now.”

Austin Meadows recorded the highest exit velocity with a 115.4 mph leadoff single, but it was Brandon Lowe who had the big swing: a three-run home run off Hess to give the Rays an early three-run lead. Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Díaz joined the homer party in the third inning with back-to-back blasts against Hess, driving him from the game. Seven of the nine Tampa Bay starters collected at least one hit on Wednesday, again showing the length of the lineup.

“One through nine, everyone has confidence going up to the plate and if one person doesn’t get it done, they know that the person behind him will,” Lowe said. “It takes a lot of stress off hitting and it makes it a little bit easier to get things done.”

The Rays’ offense has had a lot of impressive performances to open the season, but Wednesday’s ranks up there with the best of them. It even got Kiermaier to call the Rays lineup “Laser Show” after the game.

“We have some guys that can hit on this team, but that is impressive,” Kiermaier said. “That might not ever get broken ever again.”

With the way the Rays' lineup has been hitting, it’ll almost be more surprising if the team doesn’t break that number sometime this season.

Pham’s on-base streak snapped

Tommy Pham went 0-for-4 to snap a franchise-record 48-game on-base streak, which started on Aug. 21, 2018, against Kansas City.

“You’ve got to see a direct correlation between the time we acquired him last year to where we’re at now and how things have kind of turned in the right direction for this organization,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “It’s not all him, but he’s a huge part of it. So what he did and the accomplishment is pretty impressive.”

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.