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First-ever Pham slam gets Rays off to fast start

@juanctoribio
May 6, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tommy Pham has said that he has been looking to drive the ball with more consistency this season. On Monday, Pham delivered, with a grand slam in the second inning off Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly to give the Rays a 6-0 lead en route to a 12-1

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tommy Pham has said that he has been looking to drive the ball with more consistency this season. On Monday, Pham delivered, with a grand slam in the second inning off Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly to give the Rays a 6-0 lead en route to a 12-1 victory at Tropicana Field.

The home run traveled 443 feet, which is the second-longest home run of the season by a Rays player, behind Avisail Garcia’s 447-foot blast on April 18 against Baltimore. It was also the second-longest home run hit by Pham in his career, and the first grand slam he has hit at the Major League level.

“He’s a presence,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s a huge presence in our lineup. We’ve got a lot of good hitters, and Tommy is kind of that pro-hitter approach. He can do damage with the base hits, with the high average. He can do damage hitting balls in gaps and knock them out of the ballpark. He does everything.

“We do talk about it a lot, because during his streak" -- a Rays-record 48-game on-base streak that ended April 17 -- "and kind of the correlation from acquiring him, he’s been a massive presence in our lineup.”

In his past 12 games, Pham is hitting .326/.442/.535 with two doubles, two triples, one home run and eight RBIs. He has now reached in 31 of his 33 games this season and 68 of 72 games since the Rays acquired him from the Cardinals last July 31.

“The last two weeks, it’s been a little bit better compared to the start of the season,” Pham said. “But I still have a long ways to go.”

The last Rays player to hit a grand slam was Ji-Man Choi on Sept. 7, 2018, against Baltimore.

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