Miraculous: Ray's seven RBIs lead way

Fort Myers outfielder smacks grand slam in his four-hit outing

Lance Ray had 18 RBIs in 21 games for Fort Myers last month. (Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com)

By Danny Wild / MLB.com | August 7, 2012 7:32 PM ET

Lance Ray had two homers and six RBIs in June. On Tuesday, the Twins prospect topped those stats in just six at-bats.

Ray hit a grand slam in the third inning and capped his career night with a solo homer in the sixth, finishing 4-for-6 with seven RBIs, as Class A Advanced Fort Myers set season records in a 22-5 rout of Jupiter at Hammond Stadium.

Technically, he topped his June numbers in five at-bats -- he popped up in his final plate appearance. The damage was already done, though, as he helped the Miracle set team season records for runs, hits (20) and homers (four) in a game.

"It's pretty unbelievable actually," Ray said. "One of the best games of my life, and I'm kinda speechless. It was really good to put the barrel on the ball and get some good results."

Ray wasn't the only one who connected Tuesday -- Steve Liddle went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored, Angel Morales was 3-for-6 with three runs and Josmil Pinto went 3-for-4 and knocked home three.

"It was unbelievable as a team," said Ray, Minnesota's eighth-round pick in 2010. "Our last seven games, we went 1-6 and got beat up, so it was nice to turn that around, get a few hits on some other guys and run around the bases."

Ray's grand slam in the third came off Jupiter starter Chad James (5-8), who was charged with six runs over two innings.

"I was just trying to get something up in the zone to hit to the outfield and get a run across," Ray said. "2-0 count, fastball middle-in, I was able to stay down on it, get it elevated and it went out of the yard."

Three innings later, Ray hit his second homer of the month.

"0-2 count, I'm just trying to stay short, get the ball in play," Ray said of his at-bat against Dane Stone. "Fastball up, and I put a good swing on it."

Ray needed a triple for the cycle. He said he knew it, and so did the rest of the Miracle dugout.

"My teammates were giving me a hard time," he laughed. "I needed a triple in my last two at-bats, Angel did too. They give us a hard time, and I hit a home run instead."

Ray, who homered and popped up in his final two at-bats, said he faced a similar scenario once at the University of Kentucky.

"I had the same thing happen, I needed a single in college at Indiana and accidentally hit a homer too."

Ray would welcome some more accidental long balls, especially in a season in which he entered the game batting .223. He raised his average Tuesday by 10 points.

"It's been a season full of ups and downs, but that's the way baseball is," he said. "Tough games and streaks, but things are starting to come around a little bit. The whole team is kinda going better. We're trying to make a final run and try to make a run at the playoffs."

Fort Myers, who got a boost from rehabbing starter Carl Pavano on Tuesday, had dropped five straight to Daytona and St. Lucie before splitting their previous two games entering Tuesday. A 22-run win, though, can be a stress reliever.

"Kinda eye-opening for some of the guys, for most of us, it's a boost of confidence," Ray said. "We were joking around in the dugout. I think everyone had a hit and it was a great team effort."

Fort Myers' previous season high in runs was 13 against Lakeland on May 7.

Pavano, on the Twins' 60-day disabled list with right rotator cuff weakness, allowed a run on two hits without a walk over two frames. He struck out one, but gave up a homer.

"There is no date to get him back here," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said Friday. "His last couple bullpens felt good, his shoulder felt stronger and he's more comfortable."

Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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