Carlos Pena hits 46th homer as Devil Rays end season on winning note
TORONTO (AP)—Carlos Pena closed out his big year with his best month of the season.
A non-roster invitee to spring training, Pena finished with a .282 average, 121 RBIs, 102 walks and 99 runs. He hit an AL-best 13 homers in September.
“I’m glad we got that win to end it on a good note,” Pena said. “Personally, I’m just extremely happy, thankful and excited about it all. It won’t be until I’m home on the couch that I’ll be able to look back and look at it slowly, look at the details and all that stuff. One thing is for sure; I’m very grateful.”
Manager Joe Maddon said Pena has shown steady improvement at not chasing bad pitches.
“In this last month, his pitch selection has gotten even better,” Maddon said. “That’s why you saw such a good September out of him.”
The Devil Rays finished with a 66-96 record, leading the majors in losses for the second straight year and finishing in last place in the AL East for the ninth time in their 10 seasons. They won just three of their last 12 games.
Always the optimist, Maddon expects his team to approach .500 next season and push for the playoffs in 2009.
Pena shares his manager’s sunny outlook.
“The capabilities are there,” Pena said. “The consistency is more mental, to be able to go out there and execute your plan day in and day out. We have all the tools necessary to be competitors and winners in this division. What we want to get to is to have that consistency of mind.”
Hammel (3-5) allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings to win for the first time since Sept. 2 at New York. He walked two and matched a season high with six strikeouts.
“Jason fought through,” Maddon said. “His fastball command came and went a little bit but he threw some good changeups and breaking balls. He pitched with poise.”
Delmon Young was held out of the Devil Rays’ starting lineup but replaced Greg Norton in right field in the bottom of the sixth. He became the first rookie since Hideki Matsui in 2003 to play in all his team’s games.
Young’s status had been in doubt after he argued with Maddon about being removed from Saturday’s game for not running out an infield grounder. He ended up apologizing to Maddon before the final game.
Al Reyes pitched the ninth to earn his 26th save in 30 chances, helping Tampa Bay snap a four-game losing streak.
Pena homered in the first to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead, but Adam Lind tied it with an RBI single in the bottom half.
Joe Inglett drove in two runs to help Toronto build a 4-2 lead before the Devil Rays chased A.J. Burnett with a five-run sixth. Norton, Raul Casanova and Justin Ruggiano had RBI singles, Joel Guzman tripled in a run and Jonny Gomes hit a sacrifice fly.
“We were right in it,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “They just threw it to us in that one inning.”
Burnett (10-8) lost for the first time in seven starts. He gave up seven runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Wracked with injuries and offensive inconsistency, Toronto finished 83-79.
“It was a tough year in a lot of ways but some good things happened with some young guys establishing themselves,” Gibbons said.
Burnett had not lost at home since Aug. 22 against Oakland. … The Blue Jays and Devil Rays split the season series 9-9. … Tampa Bay’s Akinori Iwamura made his first career start at second base. … Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi was booed when he appeared on the video screen in a message thanking fans for their support.
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