After 3-for-26 start to road trip, left fielder hits 2 homers from No. 2 hole
By Jake Rill
PHOENIX -- Corey Dickerson slumped throughout the Rays' 10-game road trip. He was 3-for-26 in the first nine games, 3-for-his-last-30 overall, and he entered the final game of the trip with a batting average below .200, where it has sat more often than not since the beginning of May.
Dickerson knew he was capable of more, that he could produce the way he had throughout his past three seasons in Colorado. He proved in Wednesday's 6-3 win over the D-backs how he can.
The Tampa Bay left fielder went 3-for-4 with a pair of solo home runs for the fourth multihomer game of his career and first this season.
"Honestly, I just did everything I used to do back when I played with the Rockies," Dickerson said. "I decided to just be me -- don't manipulate my stance, don't manipulate my hands, don't do anything different. Go up there and just think about seeing the baseball and let my natural ability take over."
Rays manager Kevin Cash opted to bat Dickerson in the No. 2 hole against Arizona right-hander Archie Bradley. It's not exactly the ideal spot for a slumping hitter, but in a lineup that featured five position players batting below .200, Cash wanted to surround No. 3 hitter Evan Longoria with a pair of left-handed bats, and hot-hitting Logan Morrison was more deserving of the cleanup role.
It was Dickerson's first time batting second this season after spending 25 of his previous 42 starts in the No. 4 hole.
"It was nice to see him up there at the top and give us a lot of good at-bats," Cash said. "It's a good start if he's going to [break out]. When Corey has those at-bats where he stays on top, over the ball, you can tell that he's heading in the right direction."
Dickerson batted .299 with 39 home runs in his first three seasons in the Majors, all with the Rockies. In his only full season in 2014, he batted .312 with 24 home runs in 131 games.
Since he was traded to Tampa Bay in January, he has 11 home runs, already surpassing his 2015 total, but has slashed an unimpressive .202/.250/.457. After doubling his hit total for the road trip in one afternoon, Dickerson will try to build off his standout performance when the Rays return to Tropicana Field for a nine-game homestand starting Friday.
Much like Dickerson, Tampa Bay had a slow start on the road trip. The Rays were swept in three games in Kansas City, then dropped the first of a four-game set in Minnesota.
However, they responded with three straight wins against the Twins, then took two of three from the D-backs to finish the road swing, 5-5.
"To be good on the road is very difficult, and that's what makes good teams playoff teams," Dickerson said. "I think us succeeding on the road this year shows a lot of character in this team."
Jake Rill is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.