Jaso joins small club with catwalk home run
Rays DH becomes fifth player to hit a ball that lands, stays on ring
ST. PETERSBURG -- The fickle Tropicana Field catwalks have giveth and they have taketh away from the Rays this week.
"It's really weird, Tropicana," Rays designated hitter John Jaso said. "It's a circus tent, you never know."
Thursday night, Jaso became the latest to reach the mysterious rings that circle the inside perimeter of the Rays' home park in a 4-3 loss to the Orioles.
Jaso's solo home run in the third came on the first pitch he saw from Orioles starter Chris Tillman. Right fielder Dariel Alvarez looked up for the ball that hit the C-ring, but the ball never came down. The C-ring swallowed it.
"I lost track of it coming down, so I didn't know what had happened," Jaso said. "Like if it had fallen in play, if it had fallen over the fence, so I was asking [second-base umpire CB Buckner] as I was rounding second. I was like, 'Talk to me, talk to me, CB.' He's like, 'It's a homer.'"
Tropicana Field ground rules state that any ball that hits the C- or D-rings (the lower two rings) are home runs.
Jaso's homer is the fifth fair ball to hit a catwalk and not fall to the ground in Tropicana Field history. The last time that occurred came on a home run by David Ortiz on Sept. 17, 2008, and the ball remained on the D-ring.
Jaso's blast brought an opposite reaction to what the catwalks dealt the Rays during Wednesday night's 3-1 loss to the Yankees.
That one saw Steven Souza Jr. double home a run in the sixth, but it was obvious that the ball hit something above from the way Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury reacted. The umpires reviewed the call, which stood because replay cameras could not pick up the ball.
It's likely Souza's ball hit either the C- or D-ring, which would have tied the game at 2.
Yankees rookie slugger Greg Bird finished off the assault on the catwalks with a solo homer off the D-ring in the ninth inning. Bird's fifth home run of the season became the seventh fair ball to hit a catwalk this season.
"I've asked a couple of the coaching staff of late, 'Is this normal?'" Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Because it does seem like we've seen that thing factor in quite a bit here the last month or so. But it works for you sometimes. It works against you. And it's our ballpark, that's how we play."