St. Petersburg, Fla The Tampa Bay Rays made quick work of the Kansas City Royals.
Matt Garza gave up one run in six sharp innings, Jason Bartlett and Reid Brignac drove in three runs apiece in Tampa Bay’s 11-1 victory Thursday night.
At 17-5, the Rays are off to the best start in the majors after 22 games since 2003 when San Francisco and New York Yankees opened 18-4 and the Royals were 17-5.
“It’s been fun to watch, obviously,” manager Joe Maddon said. “The focus and concentration has been fantastic. We’re playing the game hard and we’re playing it right.”
Tampa Bay has won 14 of 16, outscoring opponents 117-44 during the stretch. The Rays have won 10 games by six or more runs this season.
“It’s one of those times where everybody seems to be swinging the bat well,” said left fielder Carl Crawford, who had four hits and came within a homer of hitting for the cycle. “When that happens, they always say hitting is contagious. It seems like once a few guys starting hitting, then everybody starts hitting.”
Garza (4-1) scattered five hits, walked two and struck out nine. The right-hander improved to 1-4 in seven career games against the Royals.
“Whenever you get runs early, it’s a huge help,” Garza said.
Garza and Andy Sonnanstine (2008) are the only Tampa Bay pitchers to win four games in April.
Alberto Callaspo had two hits off Garza, including a fourth-inning solo homer. He has four hits in six career at-bats against the Tampa Bay starter.
Royals catcher Jason Kendall caught his 1,928th game, moving past Jim Sundberg into sixth place on the career list.
Bartlett hit a two-run run triple and Crawford drove in a run with another triple during a five-run second against Luke Hochevar (2-1) that put the Rays ahead 5-0. Pat Burrell, who has 13 RBIs over his last nine games, and Brignac each had run-scoring singles.
Bartlett is 11-for-20 with runners in scoring position this season.