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The 5 best games by hitters in Rays history

@juanctoribio
January 11, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG -- For most of their first two-plus decades, the Rays have been built on pitching. When Tampa Bay has a competitive team on the field, it’s usually led by a stellar pitching staff. But throughout the years, the Rays have found enough offense to complement their strong pitching

ST. PETERSBURG -- For most of their first two-plus decades, the Rays have been built on pitching. When Tampa Bay has a competitive team on the field, it’s usually led by a stellar pitching staff.

But throughout the years, the Rays have found enough offense to complement their strong pitching staff. With that has come some impressive performances. Let’s take a look at the five best single-game showings by Tampa Bay hitters in franchise history.

1. Travis d'Arnaud, July 15, 2019, at Yankees
There’s likely still some recency bias with this pick, but d’Arnaud’s three-homer game against the Yankees in 2019 was nothing short of remarkable -- and historic. The Rays have had five players hit three homers in a game, but the fact that d’Arnaud’s third homer was a dramatic three-run shot in the top of the ninth off Aroldis Chapman gives him the edge.

d’Arnaud led off the game with a homer, giving the Rays some much-needed confidence against a Yankees team that had their number all season. Two innings later, d’Arnaud hit his second homer, launching it almost to the same spot as the first. After drawing a walk in each of his next two plate appearances, the stage was set for d'Arnaud to be the hero against Chapman, and the catcher delivered with his go-ahead homer, capping his 3-for-3 night.

d’Arnaud became the first catcher to hit three homers out of the leadoff spot, as well as the first catcher to hit three home runs against the Yankees in a single game.

2. Carl Crawford, May 3, 2009 vs. Red Sox
Crawford had plenty of memorable games during his nine seasons with the Rays, but none more impressive than what he accomplished in this game. The outfielder went 4-for-4 with a walk, which is a strong day. He had one RBI, but he didn’t record an extra-base hit.

What made this game so special? The fact that Crawford had six stolen bases, without getting caught once. His six steals tied a Major League record, and it hasn’t been accomplished since. This was technically not a great “hitting” performance, but it’s one of the most impressive single-game feats by a position player in Rays history.

3. Ben Zobrist, April 28, 2011 (Game 1), at Twins
There’s definitely no surprise that one of the best single-game performances in franchise history came from Zobrist. The utility man went 4-for-6 with a homer and eight RBIs in a 15-3 win in the first game of a doubleheader against the Twins.

Getting four hits in a game is impressive enough, but the real highlight of Zobrist’s performance was his eight RBIs, which remain the Rays' franchise record.

4. Carlos Pena, Sept. 5, 2007, vs. Orioles
Pena’s 2007 season is still the best single-season performance by a Rays hitter, so it’s only right that his best game of that year made it on this list. In a 17-2 win over the Orioles, Pena went 2-for-3 with two homers and seven RBIs, which was the franchise record until Zobrist broke it in ‘11.

One of Pena’s homers was a grand slam off Fernando Cabrera. The other was a two-run shot off Brian Burres.

5. Tomas Perez, July 29, 2006, at Yankees
Perez was a lifetime .240 hitter who finished his career with a negative bWAR, but that didn’t stop him from hitting four doubles in one game, the only player in franchise history to accomplish the feat.

In a 19-6 drubbing of the Yankees, Perez was among many players who had a stellar game. But the only one to record five hits was Perez. His performance is even more remarkable because he had only 12 doubles in 99 games in 2006, with four of them coming in this game.

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