Rays flash small-ball skills in first frame of '17

April 2nd, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays had trouble playing small ball in 2016. If the first inning of Sunday's 7-3 win over the Yankees is any kind of indicator, small ball might just become a part of their offense this season.
Corey Dickerson led off the Rays' first with a single to center field off Yankees righty . followed with a hustling double to left-center field, punctuated by a headfirst slide into second. 's sacrifice fly drove home Dickerson to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.
Brad Miller's infield single put runners at the corners before Steven Souza Jr. drew a walk to load the bases for , who promptly singled through the middle to score two and put the Rays up, 3-0.

"It's about situations," Dickerson said. "It's about being aware of the scoreboard. Being a smarter hitter. Having better approaches at the plate. And I think each one of us is honing into that and trying to have our best at-bats out there."
Rays hitters recorded just 119 productive outs in 2016, which was the second fewest in the Major Leagues behind Oakland (116). A productive out is defined as: when a fly ball, grounder or bunt advances a runner with nobody out; when a pitcher bunts to advance a runner with one out (maximizing the effectiveness of the pitcher's at-bat), or when a grounder or fly ball scores a run with one out.
"I think [hitting coach] Chad Mottola has talked to the guys about being a complete offense," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "You look back at last year. You hear the talk about how we hit a bunch of home runs, but they were solo home runs. We have to find a way to get on base. You hear them talk about that a lot. … Find a way to get on base, whether it's a hit or whatever. And then the big blast comes up."
That's exactly what happened on Sunday, and it started at the beginning.