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Rays beat 4/28

April 28, 2011

Fuld, Damon pack punch at top of the order

By Jordan Schelling / MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — With Sam Fuld leading off and Johnny Damon batting second, the Rays have one of the most productive top-of-the-order duos they have had in years.Entering Thursday’s games, Fuld was batting .350, with a home run, eight RBIs, a .411 on-base percentage and a league-leading 10 stolen bases. Damon was hitting .260, with four home runs and 19 RBIs, which leads all No. 2 hitters in the Majors.

“Those two guys together is kind of fun to watch,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon. “I really think if we just keep these guys rested and well, in that regard, I think that you’re going to see a pretty good level of performance on a regular basis. I think that’s the key to both of them performing well is making sure that we don’t permit them to get tired.”

Fuld is batting at a .351 clip in the leadoff spot, which leads the American League. In the 15 games Fuld and Damon have batted at the top of the order, the Rays are 9-6, and the two have combined to score 38 of 68 runs scored by the Rays in those games.

Damon’s first-inning single Wednesday night extended his hitting streak to 14 games, which is the longest April streak in club history and the ninth longest streak overall. His second RBI Wednesday night was the Major League leading sixth game-winning RBI this season for Damon.

Damon singled in the second inning of Thursday’s Game 1 of the Rays’ doubleheader against the Twins to tack onto the streak.

“Sam has been very productive in his first at-bat of the game, doing something that permits us to score first,” Maddon said. “One of our goals is to score first, and they’re definitely helping us do that.”

Followers flock to Fuld’s new Twitter

MINNEAPOLIS — Forget the “Legend of Sam Fuld.” The Rays left fielder is now on Twitter.

Before heading to the ballpark Thursday for what promised to be an exceptionally long day, Fuld signed up for an account @SamFuld5 and posted his first tweet around 10 a.m. ET.

“I just figured, ‘Why not?'” Fuld said. “I got convinced by a couple guys here to do it. It’s like a whole new world for me, I’m trying to figure out the nuances of it.”

Rays lefty David Price was one of the main proponents in getting Fuld to join Twitter, and also in getting Fuld’s follower count up so quickly. Just as his popularity has soared over the past few weeks and his legend has grown on Twitter, fans responded quickly to follow Fuld.

“Generally speaking, everything that’s gone on has been really surprising, but great,” Fuld said. “I’ve been enjoying it. This whole thing has been a great ride so far. It’s been a month, but it’s felt like a lot more than that. It’s just been a whole lot of stuff going on, and I’ve been enjoying every minute of it.”

What does Fuld plan to use his account for? Will followers get periodic updates about where the left fielder had dinner after a game?

Fuld says he wants to do much more with it than that.

“Part of my reasoning behind it is to help raise money for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, that’s one of the big things behind it,” Fuld said. “I’m definitely going to use it as a platform to speak about that stuff.

“I figure I’ll put some interesting stuff on there, whatever interests me. It’s going to be more than just, ‘I went to Starbucks this morning.’ Hopefully it’ll be a little more than that.”

Cold conditions take Maddon down memory lane

MINNEAPOLIS — After his team’s 8-2 victory Wednesday night, Rays manager Joe Maddon said the weather at Target Field reminded him of Game 5 of the 2008 World Series.

“That one was a little bit wetter,” Maddon said. “But this one was, I think, a little bit colder at the end of the day, if that’s possible. I’m walking up and down the dugout, just talking to myself basically about how it does feel like that. I do remember that and I also was thinking about how our guys responded in a very positive way.”

With temperatures in the 30s and wind chill making it feel about 10 degrees colder than it was, the Rays were forced to break out all their winter gear to play the Twins. With snow falling for much of the game, the field was wet as well, though not as much as it would have been with rain.

But the conditions did not seem to affect the Rays.

“I was very pleased with how our guys went about their business,” Maddon said. “Tough circumstances, they know that there’s a day-nighter looming in their face … and they went after it the right way. My hat’s off to our team, I thought they did great.

“We played like it was 75 and sunny.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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