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Pham joins Upton in Tampa Bay's 20-20 club

@juanctoribio
September 6, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- Before leaving Thursday's 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays, Tommy Pham cemented his name in the Rays’ record books for the second time this season. Earlier this season, Pham set Rays history by extending his on-base streak to 40 games and surpassing Johnny Damon for the most

ST. PETERSBURG -- Before leaving Thursday's 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays, Tommy Pham cemented his name in the Rays’ record books for the second time this season.

Earlier this season, Pham set Rays history by extending his on-base streak to 40 games and surpassing Johnny Damon for the most by any player in franchise history.

On Thursday, with a steal of third base in the seventh inning, Pham became just the second player in Rays history to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in the same season, joining B.J. Upton, who achieved it three times. This is Pham's second 20-20 season, as he reached the milestone in 2017 with the Cardinals.

“It’s a good accomplishment,” Pham said. “And I’m going to hit up B.J. and let him know I joined him.”

Pham is also the seventh player to achieve the 20-20 mark in the Majors this season, joining Ronald Acuna Jr., Jonathan Villar, Francisco Lindor, Starling Marte, Jose Ramirez and Christian Yelich.

Since being acquired from the Cardinals on July 31, 2018, Pham has been a key piece to the Rays’ success. This season, the Rays are 74-53 in games started by Pham. He entered Thursday’s game with a 3.6 bWAR, which is second on the team behind Charlie Morton (4.4).

But despite all of his success on the field, Pham is already thinking about getting better in the offseason. He said he needs to start elevating the ball with more consistency in order to see his home run numbers take the next step.

“These guys are hitting 40 home runs,” Pham said. “I need to figure out how to elevate the ball more consistently. This offseason, I’m going to work on that. I have a plan. I’m contacting my hitting guys in L.A. and we’re going to work.

“The main thing is staying healthy and being able to contribute day in and day out to help the team.”

After achieving the 20-20 mark, Pham was removed from the game due to a lingering right elbow injury. With the Rays leading 5-4 through seven, Pham told Rays manager Kevin Cash that he thought he should replace him with Guillermo Heredia because he wasn’t comfortable making throws from the outfield.

Pham doesn’t believe the injury will keep him out of the lineup, but he expects to get most of his playing time as the team’s designated hitter until some of the inflammation in the area goes away.

“I could at least DH until we get to L.A.,” Pham said. “Just get treatment in the meantime, and sooner or later it will get back to normal.”

Catcher Travis d'Arnaud also left Thursday’s game in the eighth inning with neck and shoulder tightness after taking back-to-back foul balls, but the Rays don’t expect him to miss any time.

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