ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) It figured that Carlos Delgado would
eventually breakthrough against Tampa Bay pitching.
Just 1-for-9 this season, and hitless in his first five at-bats
against the Devil Rays, the Toronto slugger homered his last three
trips to the plate Wednesday night to drive in four runs and pace
the Blue Jays to an 11-8 come-from-behind victory.
"It's awesome. It's a great feeling, but you don't try to do
that," said Delgado, who signed a $68 million, four-year contract
after hitting .344 with 41 homers and 137 RBI in 2000. "I think
it's impossible to plan to come out and hit three home runs. I just
wanted to hit the ball hard."
It was the third three-homer performance of Delgado's career and
overshadowed the longest home run in Tropicana Field history a
478-foot drive by Tampa Bay's Vinny Castilla, who went 3-for-4 and
had four RBI.
Devil Rays pitchers held Delgado hitless Tuesday night and he
was 0-for-2 against starter Paul Wilson before going deep on Tanyon
Sturtze, Doug Creek and Ken Hill as the Blue Jays homered five
times and scored eight runs in the last four innings.
"That's what this club can do," Toronto manager Buck Martinez
said. "Anybody on the club can hit a home run and get you back in
the game real quick."
Still, no one has been harder on the Devil Rays than Delgado.
He's homered 10 times against Tampa Bay, more than any player.
"He's a phenomenal player, and good players and great players
have the ability to come up with those key hits," Martinez said.
Raul Mondesi's two-run homer off Hill (0-1) snapped a 8-8
ninth-inning tie, and Delgado added his second solo shot of the
game four pitches later.
Delgado, who hit eight homers during spring training, had a solo
homer off Sturtze in the sixth and hit a two-run shot off Creek to
break a 5-5 tie in the seventh.
Reliever Paul Quantrill (1-0) pitched two innings to get the
win. Billy Koch worked the ninth for his first save, ending the
game when Tampa Bay's John Flaherty flied out at the wall in left
field with two runners on.
Castilla's shot off Blue Jays starter Joey Hamilton struck one
of the catwalks ringing the outfield of the domed stadium and
landed in the fourth row of the upper-deck section called "The
Beach" in left field.
Tampa Bay, bidding for its first 2-0 start, rallied for three
runs in the bottom of the seventh off reliever Lance Painter with
Ben Grieve and Castilla driving in two with singles. The Devil Rays
went ahead 8-7 when Fred McGriff scored from third as Bobby Smith
grounded into a double play.
But the lead was short-lived.
Tony Batista hit a broken-bat homer to straight away center on
Hill's second pitch of the eighth. Mondesi homered in the ninth
after Shannon Stewart drew a leadoff walk, setting the stage for
Delgado to finish his 23rd multihomer game.
"That ball Batista hit, I believe his bat is corked," Hill
said. "He hit that ball almost 450 feet (actually estimated at 417
feet) and broke the bat. ... I've given up a lot of homers. That is
the first one I've seen like that."
Wilson, who missed parts of 1997 and `98 and all of 1999 with
separate surgeries on his right shoulder and pitching elbow,
allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings.
He left with a 5-4 lead in his bid to win for just the second
time since Sept. 20, 1996. The lone victory during the stretch
snapping a 1,465-day drought came against the Blue Jays last
The Blue Jays scored three times in the third on Homer Bush's
RBI single, a throwing error by Devil Rays shortstop Felix Martinez
and Alex Gonzalez's sacrifice fly. The runs wiped out a 2-0 lead
Tampa Bay took on Flaherty's two-run, second-inning single off
|Carlos Delgado had three big reasons to smile Wednesday night.|
Flaherty was 0-for-5 lifetime against Hamilton before his
two-run single ... After drawing an announced crowd of 41,546 for
the opener, attendance slipped to 15,172 Wednesday night ... The
Devil Rays were the first AL team to have all its starters hit
safely on opening day since the Detroit Tigers did it against Tampa
Bay in 1998.
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Chi. White Sox 4
NY Yankees 8
Kansas City 2
Tampa Bay 8
Chicago Cubs 2
NY Mets 2
St. Louis 9
Los Angeles 2
San Francisco 8
San Diego 7