ST. PETERSBURG – Randy Arozarena set the bar high with his historic postseason last year. Expecting him to sustain that level for a full season would be just plain unfair. As Rays manager Kevin Cash said Tuesday: “I don’t know if any player has.”
There’s no denying the importance of Arozarena to the Rays’ lineup. Hitting coach Chad Mottola doesn’t want to put so much pressure on the Tampa Bay players, but he has consistently shared a message throughout the year with the Cuban gunner: “We know we’re better with you in the lineup, so we need you to take off.” .
The Rays saw Arozarena start to warm up with two hits Monday, even though he couldn’t avoid a loss. But on Tuesday, they were back on the back of their gunner, when he hit a double and a home run off left-hander John Means in the first three innings of the season. 9-3 win over Orioles at Tropicana Field. And on Wednesday, Arozarena took her out again with a 386-foot hit (according to Statcast) in front of Orioles starter Alexander Wells. Later, he fired another at Wells, in what was ultimately a Rays win over the Orioles.
What Arozarena has shown in recent days could be of great importance to the Rays. His left-field defense has been invaluable and continues to be above the league average at the plate. But as he proved in the postseason, the 26-year-old patrolman can carry an entire team with his talents.
“I felt good. I am very grateful to see the results in the last couple of days, ”Arozarena mentioned after Tuesday’s game. “But what makes me happy is that we were able to win. Whatever I have to do to lead the team to victory, I will try ”.
Since the All-Star break, the Rays have seen the Cuban’s offense improve, who has been working with Mottola on how to stand at the plate and on finding ways to exploit his athleticism at the plate. Arozarena’s pair of pitches through the middle of the field on Monday showed Cash that the slugger is on the right track.
“We need Randy. We told him it was time ”, confessed Mottola. “We are a better team if he does well.”
Maybe it’s a product of facing the Orioles, because he’s now 32-14 with five homers, three doubles and 14 RBIs in seven games against them this season. But he has given at least one extra base in consecutive games for the first time since June 16-17, and Tuesday was the first game with multiple such connections since June 14.
“I have been trying to do the same work that I have been doing since the beginning of the year,” Arozarena said. “I talked to my wife and said, ‘Hey, can God give me more hits? Please, that’s what I need. ‘