ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Hideki Matsui made a great first impression in his Tampa Bay debut.
Matsui provided all the Rays offense with a two-run homer in Tampa Bay's 7-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.The Rays purchased the 2009 World Series MVP's contract from Triple-A Durham before the game."It was nice to hit the home run, but we lost the game," Matsui said through a translator. "Physically I feel fine. So hopefully I can just keep building from here."Philip Humber won for the first time since throwing a perfect game in April, helping the White Sox extended their winning streak to seven games.Humber (2-2) was 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA over six starts since his gem against Seattle on April 21. The right-hander allowed two runs and five hits over seven innings Tuesday.Matsui put the Rays ahead 2-0 on a long homer to right off a Humber fastball in the fourth. It was his first homer since Sept. 19 against Texas while with Oakland."Absoultely great," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "The new guy in town homers."Matsui, who turns 38 on June 12, started in left field. He played 13 games with Durham after signing a minor league contract with Tampa Bay on April 30."He's been a quality batsman in the league for a long time," Humber said. "First pitch of the at-bat, I felt like it was a pretty decent pitch, but he put a good swing on it. You've got to tip your cap sometimes, but he's a good hitter and it's not a mistake he's been around as long as he has."Matsui has 174 homers in the majors, and 506 overall when you include his time playing in Japan."He looked really good," Maddon said. "He had a great first game for us."Matsui got a nice ovation, with a few fans giving him a standing ovation, before his first at-bat. He finished 1 for 4.Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo both had two RBIs for the White Sox, who have won six in a row on the road.Ramirez had an RBI double during a five-run sixth against James Shields (6-3) as Chicago took a 6-2 lead. A.J. Pierzynski, Viciedo and Orlando Hudson hit run-scoring singles, while Alejandro De Aza drove in a run with a grounder.Shields gave up six runs and 10 hits in six innings."For the most part I felt really good," Shields said. "I felt really dominate until that last inning. They made an adjustment. I felt I had them on the ropes for the first five innings."The White Sox got to 2-1 in the fifth when Viciedo singled, went to third when Shields was charged with an error for an errant pickoff attempt and scored on Ramirez's single.Viciedo hit a solo shot in the eighth. The White Sox have homered in 15 consecutive games.Chicago's Paul Konerko went 0 for 4, including three strikeouts, to stop his 14-game hitting streak.
Maddon said 3B Evan Longoria (partial tear left hamstring) continues improving, but is at least a few weeks away from being ready for a minor league rehab assignment. ... Viciedo has driven in 12 runs in his last six games. ... With the addition of Matsui, Tampa Bay DH Luke Scott could get some playing time at first base. ... Pierzynski has 12 RBIs over his last 12 games.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 29: Outfielder Hideki Matsui #35 of the Tampa Bay Rays meets the media before play...
13,735 (40.3% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
Home Plate - Mike Winters, First Base - Mark Wegner, Second Base - Mike Muchlinski, Third Base - Brian Knight
Dayan Viciedo picked up three hits, including a home run, in the White Sox' 7-2 win Tuesday. Viciedo has eight home runs and 22 RBI in his last 15 games. He's struck out only four times over that span after striking out 31 times in his first 31 games.