After Jeff Niemann’s short night in Wednesday’s win, the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen could have used a long start from David Price on Thursday night.
It didn’t happen.
As it turned out, it didn’t matter.
Price last 4 1/3 innings in the Rays' 11-1 win against the Los Angeles Angels. The bullpen picked up the remaining 4 2/3 innings one night after it picked the final 5 1/3 in Wednesday’s win.
"That’s a lot of coverage," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Grant Balfour (1 2/3 innings), Randy Choate (2) and Joe Nelson (1) got the final 14 outs Thursday after Lance Cormier, Jason Isringhausen, Nelson and Dan Wheeler combined to pick up the final 19 outs.
Maddon said he is concerned the ‘pen might be overworked, yet J.P. Howell did not pitch in either game and he thinks Isringhausen and Wheeler will be available Friday when the Rays open a three-game series against the visiting Washington Nationals.
Designated hitter Pat Burrell was activated from the disabled list after Thursday’s game, and outfielder Matt Joyce was sent back to Triple-A Durham.
Burrell was 1-for-13 with six strikeouts in three minor league rehab games this week, including an 0-for-4, two-strikeout night Thursday with the Class-A Charlotte Stone Crabs.
"He reported back that he’s swinging the bat really good," Maddon said. "So, let’s rock and roll."
Joyce was batting .188 for the season, including .238 in the eight games he played since being recalled.
He was hitless in his last 15 at-bats.
"I like what he did up here," Maddon said. "His time will come."
The Rays hit four home runs Thursday, the most at Tropicana Field this season.
Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford and Dioner Navarro each hit solo home runs. Carlos Pena hit a three-run bomb in the eighth inning.
The Rays have homered in 16 of their 17 games (a total of 27 in that stretch). They have 22 home runs in their last 12 games and 34 in their last 21.
Thursday’s barrage was the most since they hit five against the Twins last Sept. 18.
Longo stops slide
Evan Longoria ended a career-long 0-for-19 slump with his 14th home run of the season in the fifth inning.
"Longo just needed to get at-bats," Maddon said. "He needed to get back on the field, and he needed to stop chasing (pitches out of the strike zone)."
Maddon was impressed with how Longoria drew a walk in the eighth by laying off a curveball in the dirt on a 3-2 count.
Longoria’s homer was only his third since May 10, a span of 28 games. He had hit 11 in his first 30 games of the season.
Ben Zobrist was 2-for-4 with a double, a single and a walk. He raised his on-base percentage to .430 and his slugging percentage to .677. He was 6-for-11 with a home run, two RBIs, five runs, two walks and a stolen base in the three games against the Angels.
Dioner Navarro, who had three hits in his last 23 at-bats (.091 average) in his last nine games, was 2-for-5 with a home run, three RBIs, a double and a run.
Carlos Pena homered for the second straight night to tie Mark Teixeira for the AL lead in homers with 19 each. Pena was 5-for-10 with two home runs, two doubles, five RBIs, three walks and five runs in the series.
Carl Crawford homered for the first time this season off a left-handed pitcher ... Gabe Gross tied a career high with three hits and set a career high with two stolen bases ... The Rays have won eight of their last 10 at home ... The Angels worked 13 full counts ... The Rays stole three bases to increase their major league-leading total to 96, 30 more than the Angels, who are second ... the 10-run margin of victory was the largest against the Angels in Rays history.