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d'Arnaud delivers with two HRs in rubber match

Catcher hits first two home runs since joining Rays a month ago
@juanctoribio
June 6, 2019

DETROIT -- Since finishing seventh in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2014 as a member of the Mets, Travis d'Arnaud has seen some highs and lows over the past five seasons. d’Arnaud, 30, finished with a career-high 16 home runs in 2017 but was limited to

DETROIT -- Since finishing seventh in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2014 as a member of the Mets, Travis d'Arnaud has seen some highs and lows over the past five seasons.

d’Arnaud, 30, finished with a career-high 16 home runs in 2017 but was limited to just four games in 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In 2019, d’Arnaud was designated for assignment by New York after just 10 games. Once he cleared waivers, d’Arnaud signed with the Dodgers, but he appeared in just one game before being traded to the Rays for cash considerations on May 10.

In 16 games with Tampa Bay, d’Arnaud has drawn praise from the pitchers and manager Kevin Cash, especially for what he has been able to do behind the plate with a pitching staff that he was unfamiliar with and has a lot of different types of arms.

Box score

“The catching,” Cash quickly said when asked what has impressed him about d’Arnaud over the past month. “The way he handles the pitching staff. He’s put on a clinic, it seems, like blocking baseballs for us and working with the pitchers.”

But while d’Arnaud has served as a quality defensive catcher for the Rays in the absence of Mike Zunino and Michael Perez, on Thursday the right-hander made a big impact with his bat, launching two home runs in Tampa Bay’s 6-1 series-clinching win over Detroit at Comerica Park.

“It definitely feels good to get some results,” d’Arnaud said. “It’s something I’ve been working with [hitting coach Chad Mottola] a lot and just staying within myself, not trying to overswing, keep my eyes on the ball, and I had a couple of good results [Thursday].”

In the third inning, d’Arnaud connected on his first home run of the season, a 420-foot blast off Tigers starter Daniel Norris. It was d’Arnaud’s first home run since March 31, 2018, against Cardinals starter Michael Wacha.

d’Arnaud didn’t stop there.

With the Rays up 4-1 in the eighth inning, d’Arnaud hit a two-run homer off Daniel Stumpf, his third career multi-homer game and first since Sept. 22, 2017, against the Nationals.

“He’s fit in really well,” Cash said. “He had a lot on his plate going to [the Mets and Dodgers]. He’s got his family out on the West Coast. A lot of factors -- we probably simply sometimes say, ‘Oh, he’s just getting to a new team.’ There’s a lot of things that go into that.

“Travis is pretty calm. He handles everything, [and] it seems like he takes it with a grain of salt. He’s really making the most of an opportunity for us.”

d'Arnaud said after the game that everyone has been “awesome” since he got traded to the Rays. As Perez (oblique) enters a rehab assignment, it appears Tampa Bay will have to make a decision regarding d’Arnaud sooner rather than later.

“That’s out of my control, man,” d’Arnaud said. “I’m enjoying every moment that I’m here, and everyone wants to play in the postseason here, and that’s something that I love doing and I’m just out here having fun.”

Beeks continues strong season
While Jalen Beeks has not made a start this season, he has played a big role, pitching every fifth day in what has become the Rays’ unofficial pitching rotation.

After Ryne Stanek pitched the first two innings Thursday, Beeks was responsible for pitching the bulk of them against the Tigers. The left-hander was sharp once again, striking out two and allowing just four hits over 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Beeks improved to 5-0 and lowered his season ERA to 2.76 in 15 appearances. He also won his 10th consecutive decision, which surpassed Blake Snell’s club record of nine consecutive wins.

“Sorry, Blake,” Beeks joked. “That’s pretty cool. It’s an honor. I didn’t know I was in line for that today, but it’s a pretty cool little stat.”

Healthy bats
The Rays are still trying to get completely healthy, but the club got closer to that goal when Tommy Pham returned to the lineup after missing five games with a right calf strain.

It was the first game since May 18 against the Yankees that the Rays had Austin Meadows, Yandy Diaz, Avisail Garcia and Pham in the starting nine. And the offense did not disappoint Thursday.

Tampa Bay recorded 14 hits on Thursday and finished with 16 balls hit into play with an exit velocity of 100 mph or higher, tying the club record since Statcast began tracking. The Rays also accomplished the feat on April 17 against the Orioles.

The Rays have now hit 439 balls in play with an exit velocity with 100 mph or higher, which leads the Majors.

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