ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay's Joel Peralta set the franchise record for relief appearances with his 251st when he entered Sunday's 8-5 win against the Red Sox in the seventh inning.
It might have been a record-setting appearance, but it was far from Peralta's best. The Rays were leading Boston, 3-1, when Peralta was summoned to protect the advantage, but the reliever gave up a pinch-hit, game-tying two-run homer to Jonny Gomes.
The Rays bailed out Peralta in the bottom of the inning when Sean Rodriguez hit a pinch-hit three-run shot that put the Rays up, 6-3, and Yunel Escobar drove in two more with a double. The five-run inning gave Peralta the win in relief.
Peralta broke Dan Wheeler's record of 250 relief appearances, although it took Wheeler seven seasons to reach that number, while Peralta is only in his fourth season with the ballclub.
>"Here's a guy that always pitches in the wintertime, too. So try to include the number of appearances he's made in winter ball into that number -- that even makes it more staggering," manager Joe Maddon said.
The Rays' all-time games pitched record is 266, held by Esteban Yan, who made 245 relief appearances and 21 starts.
Peralta is 2-3 with a 5.24 ERA on the season.
With replay, Maddon feels tagging will change
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays manager Joe Maddon wasn't too tired after Saturday's 15-inning, 6-5 win against the Red Sox to talk about the implications of a replay challenge that ended up having no bearing on the game's outcome.
In the 10th inning, Desmond Jennings tried to steal second, but was called out. Maddon challenged and the play was overturned.
Boston catcher David Ross' throw beat Jennings to the base, but Dustin Pedroia's tag was too high on Jennings' arm, and the Tampa Bay center fielder's hand got in ahead of it.
"I probably would have argued that straight up in the past," Maddon said after the game -- meaning before the advent of the challenge system.
It's a play he could have argued until he was blue in the face, and it would never have gotten overturned. It's also a play that, before challenges, umpires would almost invariably call "out" on -- the throw beat the runner and the tag was put down quickly.
"For the last hundred years, every one of those guys would've been out," Maddon said.
But with the new replay review system, umpires can't give the benefit of the doubt to the fielder on those plays -- or, if they do, managers can challenge the call. So fielders have to follow the letter of the rules and get tags down -- contrary to, for example, the neighborhood play, which is unchallengable and in which fielders still have leeway.
"Tagging is going to have to be taken to another level," Maddon said. "Seriously. There's been a lot of assumptionism in tagging.
"I think as we move forward, teaching guys how to tag runners better is going to become more of a premium -- not only tagging them initially, but holding tags longer, because of the fact that if the guy comes off the bag, he can be out now with the replay.
"That part probably wasn't spoken about enough in regard to the instant replay."
Myers seeing improvements at plate
ST. PETERSBURG -- On Tuesday, Rays right fielder Wil Myers discussed a hole the coaching staff had discovered in his approach at the plate. Myers said that he and hitting coach Derek Shelton were working on fixing the issue.
Since then, Myers, who is batting .232, has looked better, even though he doesn't have much in the way of tangible results. He's gone 0-for-9 in his past two starts, but he's been hitting the ball hard.
On Saturday, Myers said the improvements -- however immeasurable so far -- are a direct result of the work he's focused on that undisclosed issue.
"I think it is. I think it's 100 percent what I've worked on," Myers said. "It's just, just frustrating, the fact that I finally feel good in the box and still not getting results."
Myers reached base twice in each of the first two games after he first spoke about the issue -- on two walks in the first and two hits in the next. But in his last two starts, he hasn't been able to buy a hit -- he's lined balls straight at fielders, missed a home run by feet and had a potential bases-clearing gapper robbed by Oakland outfielder Josh Reddick.
But is he at least feeling more comfortable?
"Oh, yeah," Myers said. "The last two days have been really good. It's just one of those things."
Hellickson throws second BP, Zobrist hits
ST. PETERSBURG -- Injured Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (right elbow surgery) threw his second session of live batting practice Sunday afternoon before the Rays-Red Sox series finale.
Hellickson threw about 35 pitches to Sean Rodriguez, Cole Figueroa and Ben Zobrist. Zobrist, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a dislocated left thumb, had not yet hit against live pitching, although he did take normal batting practice for the first time Saturday.
"I treated them like game at-bats," Zobrist said of his batting practice at-bats against Hellickson. He hit a fly ball to right and a line drive to center.
He also said he still felt 100 percent while hitting against a real pitcher, which he said after his Saturday batting practice.
Hellickson, on the other hand, said he didn't feel as good Sunday as he did in his first live batting practice session Thursday. But he made sure to clarify that it wasn't a setback -- it just took him longer than he wanted to loosen up.
"I just felt it," he said.
Hellickson threw about the same combination of pitches as he did in his first live BP, mostly fastballs, with some curveballs and changeups mixed in.
He said will move on to the next step of his rehab -- a simulated game he will throw in Port Charlotte, Fla. -- on Wednesday, and is still targeting a late-June return.
David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.