Be certain, Joe Maddon was impressed with all the homers the Rays hit. David Price had a few big plays in the field, though, and that is what really got him excited.
Johnny Damon, Casey Kotchman and Kelly Shoppach all connected in the third inning for three of Tampa Bay's five solo home runs against CC Sabathia, and Price again came out on top in a matchup of these elite lefties, lifting the Rays over the New York Yankees 5-1 Friday night.
"You talk about the homers, but the pitching and defense were spectacular," the Rays manager said.
With a full moon looming over the famed Yankee Stadium frieze in right field, light-hitting Elliot Johnson and Evan Longoria also homered -- the 100th of his career -- in Tampa Bay's fifth straight win.
The five homers were the most Sabathia (16-7) has allowed in his career and the most a Yankees pitcher has given up since David Wells did it in 2003. The Rays' previous high for home runs in a game this season was three.
"You never know what you're going to see at the ballpark," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Tonight was a strange night."
Price (10-10) improved to 3-0 in the five times he's faced Sabathia, pitching eight dominant innings of six-hit ball.
More importantly for the Rays, who began a six-game trip against the Yankees and Red Sox hoping to close a big gap in the AL East, Price snapped a six-week skid in which he went 1-4 in eight starts.
"Almost pitched a little bit backwards from what he normally does. Threw a lot of off-speed stuff earlier in counts," Shoppach said. "And it worked. He was able to throw them for strikes and get them swinging early which is how he was able to go so deep in the game."
The first inning should have felt familiar to Price, though. Derek Jeter led off with a single against the lanky lefty. Hit No. 3,034 of Jeter's career came with none of the fanfare that accompanied his three knocks the last time he faced Price at the ballpark in the Bronx. Jeter's second hit on July 9 was a home run for the milestone 3,000th.
Price benefited from some fine defense, too. Shoppach made a difficult tag at home on a strong relay by second baseman Sean Rodriguez to prevent a second run in the fourth. Rodriguez made a sliding stop in the eighth to start an inning-ending double play, one of two DPs that Jeter hit into.
"What a throw by Sean. Holy cow," Shoppach said of the relay home.
Kotchman was the first Rays player to hit the ball out of the infield against Sabathia. His fly in the third landed in the second deck in right field. Shoppach followed with a long homer to left, the third time the Rays went back-to-back this season. Damon followed with a high fly that just cleared the short porch in right field.