Red-hot Dickerson leads off birthday with HR

Red-hot Dickerson leads off birthday with HR

ST. PETERSBURG -- Corey Dickerson just continues to rake.

Celebrating his 28th birthday on Monday night, the scorching-hot Rays slugger led off the bottom of the first with his fifth career leadoff home run to get the Rays' offense started. Unfortunately for the Rays, Angels pitchers had the upper hand and the Rays lost, 3-2, at Tropicana Field.

"He's performing well, leading off the game," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "In the fifth and the sixth; whenever. He's swinging the bat really well right now. I don't think where he's hitting, or what inning it is, is factoring in changing his approach right now."

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Facing a 2-0 count in the first, Dickerson connected on a 93.3-mph two-seamer on the third pitch he saw from Angels starter JC Ramirez.

Going oppo, Dickerson drove the ball 394 feet into the left-field stands to tie the game at 1. His 12th home run of the season had an exit velocity of 101.5 mph with a 30-degree launch angle, according to Statcast™.

All of Dickerson's career leadoff home runs have come this season. The leadoff birthday long ball was the Major League's first since Baltimore's Manny Machado did the same on July 6, 2015, at Minnesota. Dickerson was the second player in team history to homer from the leadoff spot on his birthday, joining Randy Winn, who did so on June 9, 2002, against the Padres.

In franchise history, Rays players have homered 13 times on their birthday. Dickerson was the first Rays player to do so since Steven Souza Jr., on April 24, 2016, against the Yankees in New York.

Dickerson has hit 11 home runs from the leadoff spot this season, which leads the Major Leagues.

"Really, I just try to have a really good approach before I go up there before the game," said Dickerson, when asked about being comfortable in the leadoff spot. "Know what I'm going to do up there.

"Today I felt like I had a good approach my first at-bat, then got away from it. And I felt like we could have had a little better approaches today, and strung together a few more at-bats, and we probably would have had a little better success."

Dickerson did not have another hit after his leadoff homer, which snapped a streak of five consecutive multi-homer games for the Rays. He said he planned to celebrate with his family once he got home, but clearly, he wished he were taking home on a win on his birthday.

"We started off really hot; you know, the energy," Dickerson said. "And when you don't string together at-bats, it kind of gets you down. But there's always tomorrow."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.