TB@NYY: Myers belts grand slam for first career homer

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays manager Joe Maddon vowed to leave rookie Wil Myers near the middle of the batting order after he was called up last week, in order to not overload him with pressure.

But opposing teams haven't been willing to let Myers hide behind the heart of the Rays' order, choosing to intentionally walk Tampa Bay's power hitters to pitch to the rookie, who hasn't yet amassed 50 at-bats.

So far, the strategy is backfiring. The batter ahead of Myers has been intentionally walked three times and Myers has two hits.

"That's not a bad percentage," Maddon said Tuesday. "Go ahead. I'm all for it. That just makes us better."

C.C. Sabathia intentionally walked James Loney to load the bases last week in New York. Myers answered with his first grand slam.

"The grand slam was pretty cool," Myers said. "To be able to do that for the team felt pretty good."

Mark Buehrle gave Evan Longoria a free pass on Tuesday night to put runners at the corners, electing to pitch to Myers. Myers fouled the off Buehrle's first offering before knocking an RBI single to left field.

"Anytime I can hit with runners in scoring position is a good time to hit," Myers said.

Maddon, however, doesn't see it lasting.

"As he continues to come through, that's going to go away," Maddon said.

Pinch-catcher? Rodriguez was prepared

TB@NYY: Rodriguez makes great diving catch in center

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays' catcher Jose Lobaton had quite a scare in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays, when the tip of Adam Lind's bat struck the back of his helmet.

Manager Joe Maddon only has two catchers on his roster, and Lobaton was already a defensive replacement for starter Jose Molina, but Maddon's only concern was for Lobaton's health. Maddon had complete confidence in his third catcher: Sean Rodriguez.

As trainers tended to Lobaton, Rodriguez, in infielder, prepared to put on the gear.

"Sean was ready to go, man," Maddon said after the game. "I told Loby, 'You realize Sean is next. How do you feel?' I was just trying to get him to smile. He was definitely shaken in the beginning. That hit him firmly. He was fine, but Sean was ready."

Rodriguez hasn't caught a game since high school, but he often catches bullpen sessions and warm-up pitches between innings.

"I want to get that inning under my belt," Rodriguez said after the game. "It would have been something for everyone to smile about with the way [R.A.] Dickey was throwing, but I was glad to see [Lobaton] was all right."

Rodriguez said he's prepared for all aspects of catching, including gunning down potential basestealers. Well, sort of.

"It's going to fly," Rodriguez joked. "It might go into center field, but they're going to say, 'He has a [great] arm.'"

Maddon was even willing to take things a step further, claiming the Rays now have four catchers with the arrival of rookie Wil Myers. Myers was a catcher during his first two seasons in the Minor Leagues.

Rodriguez had something to say about that.

"No chance," Rodriguez said. "We're fighting. He's the prospect. We have to take care of him."

Worth noting

• After clinching the three-game series against the Blue Jays on Tuesday, the Rays are now 18-0-1 in the their last 19 home series against the Blue Jays, including one series at Orlando's Ballpark at Disney. During that span, the Rays are 44-13 overall against the Blue Jays. The tie came in Toronto's last visit to Tropicana Field, when they split a four-game series from May 6-9.

• Matt Moore became the Major League's fourth 10-game winner on Tuesday night, joining Detroit's Max Scherzer, Oakland's Bartolo Colon and St. Louis' Lance Lynn. This marks the fourth time in club history a pitcher has reached 10 wins within the first 81 games of the season, joining David Price (2010 and '12), and Rolando Arrojo ('98).

• James Loney went 3-for-4 against left-handed pitching on Tuesday night and is now hitting .380 (27-for-71) against southpaws, which ranks third in the American League and fifth in the Majors.

• This weekend's series against Detroit features a postgame concert by folk rock band The Felice Brothers on Saturday.