Diaz’ power enables Rays to hold onto first place

by Gary Shelton on May 12, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Diaz had two home runs to lead the Rays./CHUCK MULLER

Sunday, 4 a.m.

He has muscles, okay? And those muscles have muscles. And those muscles have muscles.

And these days, Yandy Diaz is flexing them for the world to see.

Diaz put on a show Saturday night, homering to left, homering to right and hitting two deep fly balls to center to lead the Rays to a 7-2 victory over the New York Yankees, a victory that allowed the Rays to hold onto their lead in the AL East. It was the first  game the team has played for sole possession of first place since the 2013 season (at Boston).

Diaz has been one of the feel-good stories of the season. Over the last two seasons, Diaz had hit just one home run in 265 at-bats. But the Rays saw something they liked

This season, Diaz ha unfound power./CHUCK MULLER

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Avisail Garcia rounds third after his homer./CHUCK MULLER

in how hard Diaz hit the ball. This year, he's hitting .267 with nine homers and 22 RBI.

"Ive surprised myself," Diaz said of his season."I knew I wasn't always a power hitter or a home run hitter, but things have changed this year. I wasn't necessarily mechanically. It was me trying to get to the ball faster and that would create more power."

Rays’ CF Guillermo Heredia takes a pitch./CHUCK MULLER

Rays' manager Kevin Cash said that he could appreciate what Diaz has done.

“It's a long list and another guy that you have to credit the front office for kind of recognizing some things that he did well," Cash said. "It was probably his time and his opportunity to go play. We are fortunate that we acquired him and he’s making the most of that. It’s been pretty impressive. Today, he had the home run to left, the home run to right and he smoked two balls (to center). He can really hit. He’s feeling pretty locked

in at the plate, but you can definitely appreciate what he’s doing for our offense right now.

“He just hits the ball really hard. Some elite hitters in this game have a track

Chirinos ran his record to 5-1./CHUCK MULLER

record of hitting the ball hard. Yandy has done it at a different level, the minor leagues. You try to find as much information to see if it’s going to translate to the big leagues. Our guys felt it was. It has in the early going."

The Rays opened with Ryne Stanek and used four pitchers. Chief among them was Yonny Chirinos, who ran his record to 5-1. Diego Castillo threw two perfect innings and Jose Alvarado one.

The Rays and Yankees wrap up their series today at the Trop. The Rays are 9-1-2 in series play this season. Blake Snell will pitch for the Rays against Masahiro Tanaka. The game begins at 1:10 p.m.

New Rays’ catcner Travis d’Arnaud is late on a tag./CHUCK MULLER



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