By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
ST. PETERSBURG — Logan Morrison was batting .120 with no runs batted in and not even an extra-base hit at this time last season.
What a difference a year has made for Morrison, who crushed his ninth home run, driving in his 23rd runs of the season in the Tampa Bay Rays’ 12-1 win over the Kansas City Royals Wednesday night.
Despite the success, Morrison still sees room for improvement.
“I’m definitely not content where I’m at right now,” Morrison said. “I feel like I’m leaving a lot of at-bats on a negative note. … When you’re feeling good you probably swing at a lot of stuff you shouldn’t, and when you’re not feeling good you take stuff you shouldn’t take.”
Morrison gave starting pitcher Chris Archer more than enough run support, with Archer tossing a gem in the win. The right-hander threw eight scoreless innings with just five hits allowed and 11 strikeouts.
“We really needed that from a bullpen stand point and it was good to see him step up and provide that,” said manager Kevin Cash, whose team had lost three straight.
Tempers flared in the seventh inning when Archer hit Royals catcher Salvador Perez – who accounted for two of his team’s first three hits – in the elbow with a pitch. Perez took exception to being hit, and let Archer know how he felt.
“Honestly, there was nothing malicious there. I’ve had some great interactions with him in the past,” Archer said. “Whenever we’ve crossed paths prior to that, we were just saying playful things to each other. He’s a good hitter. I’m trying to pitch inside. There’s no malicious intent with 96 miles an hour.”
Archer wasn’t just good Wednesday night, he was dominant.
Jorge Bonifacio was on first base when Perez was hit, which made Bonifacio the first runner to reach scoring position against Archer on the night. Only one other Royals runner touched second base all game.
The Rays feasted on Archer’s counterpart Jason Hammel. The Royals’ starter surrendered seven runs on 11 hits in six innings.
Morrison did the worst of the damage, going 1-for-2 off him, with the two-run homer and another RBI for the game’s first run on a strange play in the first inning.
With Corey Dickerson at third base and Evan Longoria on first, Morrison looped a shallow fly to centerfield. Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar made a great over-the-shoulder catch running toward the outfield, which allowed Dickerson to score, but Longoria assumed the ball was going to drop, so he was tagged out near second base for a double play after the run already came in.
Rickie Weeks hit a solo homer following Morrison’s bomb. Colby Rasmus hit a wall-scraping grand slam in the eighth inning – the sixth of his career – to give the Rays a dozen runs.
Dickerson later hit a stand-up triple to plate Derek Norris from first base, and eventually scored his second run of the evening on a Brad Miller sacrifice fly. Miller’s single in the eighth inning gave all nine Rays batters in the starting lineup at least one hit as the team totaled 16 base knocks on the night.
“A bunch of guys impacted the game tonight,” Cash said. “It’s good to see Rickie get going. He’s had some good at-bats. He hits the home run and then he draws the walk there at the end of the game, which is telling that he’s seeing the ball better.”
Wednesday’s attendance was 9,320 which is the lowest total at Tropicana Field this season.
The Rays and Royals will finished the four-game series today at 1:10 p.m. with Rays’ Jake Odorizzi (2-1, 2.88 ERA) slated to pitch against Jason Vargas (4-1, 1.19 ERA).