06/11/2002 11:52 PM ET
Sandberg's big inning sparks Rays
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For one inning, they were practically perfect.
The Devil Rays (21-42) scored nine runs in the fifth inning on Tuesday
night against the Dodgers, the second most in team history, and went on to win
11-2. Jared Sandberg, who started things off in the fifth, hit two home runs in
that inning, both on the first pitch.
Add in the fact that the team that went a Major League record 194 games without
a complete game, got another one, again by Joe Kennedy, and it made for an
enjoyable and interesting night for the Rays.
"It was fun," said Brent Abernathy. "The best part was that everybody did their
job when they were called on. We were aggressive and went out and took the game.
We didn't sit back and wait for things to come to us."
Hal McRae was pleased but, just as he doesn't get too low after losses, he
wasn't celebrating too much after this one.
"We put pitching and hitting together tonight and we need to do that more
often,'' McRae said. "They all played good that inning. They hustled and played
heads up and they all contributed. I hope it can carry over because once in a
blue moon is not enough.''
McRae said the big inning was important but that Kennedy's performance was key,
"Joe gave us a good outing and that made everything possible,'' McRae said. "He
kept the ball down and threw strikes. I think he learned something from his
outing in New York.''
Kennedy had a lead but gave up five runs in five innings on May 15 at New York.
In his next turn, Kennedy shut out Seattle 1-0 and ended the streak of
"I thought we executed pretty well tonight," Kennedy said. "I just went out and
threw strikes. We got the win and we got a lot of run support."
Sandberg's home runs put the game out of reach and pleased Jared's uncle
visiting from Seattle. No, not that uncle (Ryne Sandberg).
"I can only think of a handful of times I have hit two home runs in a game and
never two in an inning," Sandberg said. "It's a dream, especially in a Major
League game. It's pretty amazing."
It was the 42nd time in Major League history that a player has hit two home runs
in one inning. Sandberg is the 39th player to do it. It was the 16th time in the
Sandberg said he has been working on avoiding the low pitches he used to chase
and now is going after the first good pitch he sees up in the zone. On Tuesday,
they just happened to be the first pitches.
"One was a change and the other was a slider,'' Sandberg said. "They were right
there and that's what we've been working on. If I see a pitch up, I jump on it.
It's good to be aggressive on the first pitch.''
Sandberg's last four home runs all have come on the first pitch.
But Sandberg was not the only Devil Ray being added to the record book on
Tuesday. Randy Winn had three more hits, giving him 11 in his last 15 at-bats.
He also has eight extra base hits in the last three games and that has been done
only twice before, once by Alex Rodriguez of Seattle in 1998 and by Earl Sheely
of the White Sox in 1926.
"Winny continues to hit," said McRae. "He has gotten a lot of key hits. He has
had good at-bats.''
Winn's home run to lead off the game was his third, and second in three games.
He now has six home runs this season in 237 at-bats. In 1,229 previous at-bats,
he hit 10 home runs.
"Things are just working for me right now," Winn said.
Paul C. Smith covers the Devil Rays for MLB.com and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not
subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.