TB@TOR: Rays crew updates on Escobar's return

TORONTO -- Yunel Escobar was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game on Saturday as he nurses a mild right-hamstring strain.

"He's feeling a lot better today, to the point where it's not sore," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But I don't want to push it, because I don't think it's necessary. But he's definitely making progress. Let's just be a little more patient."

When asked if Escobar could be back in the lineup by Monday, Maddon said: "I would imagine so.

"We want him to get out here and run around a little bit. ... It's doing well, it's doing fine, we just don't want to push.

"I really think what happened is, he took those three days off [for the All-Star break] and worked out pretty hard on the day before we left [for Toronto] on Thursday. He did a lot of running on the turf, whether it was taking his ground balls. I think he just got sore from that. I really do."

Myers putting up Puig-like numbers

TB@TOR: Myers plates another run on early single

TORONTO -- Since rookie Wil Myers joined the Rays on June 18, they have gone 21-8, including Saturday's 4-3 win over the Blue Jays. During that span, he leads all Major League rookies in RBIs (18) and is tied with the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig in home runs (four) and is second in hits with 35 behind Puig's 36.

On Saturday, Myers went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in his first game batting cleanup.

Only one player in Rays history had as many hits and RBIs in his first 27 Major League games: Rocco Baldelli, who had 40 hits and 20 RBIs in 2003.

Myers' fourth home run of the season came on an 0-2 pitch from Esmil Rogers leading off the fourth inning of Friday's 8-5 win over the Blue Jays. The ball went to right field -- Myers' opposite field -- and opened some eyes, including those of manager Joe Maddon.

"That 0-2 home run was pretty different," Maddon said. "That was really well struck right there."

Myers grinned when asked if he knew he "got it" well enough to go out.

"Yeah I did," Myers said. "I got it on the barrel, so I knew it had a chance to get out."

Barnes' cycle first for Astros since Rays' Scott

HOU@TB: Scott drills a two-run homer to right-center

TORONTO -- Houston's Brandon Barnes hit for the cycle on Friday night, becoming the first Astros player to turn the trick since Luke Scott in his second big league season.

Scott's cycle came on July 28, 2006, when the Astros lost, 8-7, to the Diamondbacks in 11 innings.

After grounding out in his first at-bat the day, Scott hit a three-run homer. He followed with a triple, then a double, leaving him a single shy when he hit in the ninth inning. He grounded out, but got another opportunity in 11th and came through with a single.

"It was my first Major League home run," Scott said when asked if he remembered his cycle. "And everything kind of unfolded so fast, hit homer, a triple, a double. Then base hit and I finally realized, I'd hit for the cycle."

Scott extended his career-high hitting streak to 12 games with an eighth-inning single in Saturday's 4-3 win over the Blue Jays.

Maddon opts for Farnsworth to start eighth inning

TOR@TB: Farnsworth fields bunt, throws while falling

TORONTO -- Joel Peralta has been the Rays' eighth-inning guy out of the bullpen for the last several seasons, but Joe Maddon elected to use Kyle Farnsworth to start the eighth in Friday night's 8-5 win over the Blue Jays.

The Rays had just taken a 6-4 lead in the top of the eighth when Farnsworth took over for starter David Price to pitch to Edwin Encarnacion. Maddon explained the move.

"I want to try and get Farnsworth more involved and I wanted him on that one hitter," Maddon said. "He was on Encarnacion, period. Even if he had gotten him out, that was it. So I wanted him to go in there to try and shorten, if you look at Peralta's body of work to this point, it's been rather large. So if I can shorten his body of work in a good matchup, I'm going to try and do that sometimes. And there it was. And Encarnacion versus Farnsworth is a good matchup, according to how we do things."

Farnsworth ended up walking Encarnacion and Peralta came in to record the next three outs.

Farnsworth "got ahead and then he walked him, so what," Maddon said. "But he did make some nice pitches on him. Joel was going to come in for the next hitter regardless."

Peralta has already appeared in 50 games this season.

"I don't want to run him into the ground," Maddon said. "We expect to play a lot longer, beyond the last game of the regular season. I've got to take care of him, he's so valuable. That was the perfect opportunity to do it."

Peralta is behind whatever his manager wants to do.

"I'm totally OK with it, I'm OK with any decision they make with the game and me," Peralta said. "I have nothing to complain about. I kind of like Farnsworth to have more games, because I think the more he pitches the better he's going to be and we need all the help we can get."

In Saturday's 4-3 win over the Blue Jays, Maddon let lefty Alex Torres, who had already thrown two scoreless innings, start the eighth, and he walked righties Jose Bautista and Encarnacion. Peralta replaced him and walked Adam Lind before escaping the jam by retiring the next three hitters, with two strikeouts.