Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 4/24/13
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. This homestand was a variety pack of emotion. There were strange clubhouse sights A cockatoo? Penguins? hot bats and a few heated words.Perhaps it was fitting that some equilibrium was restored in the past six days at Tropicana Field, capped by the Tampa Bay Rays 3-0 victory over the New York Yankees on Wednesday. After all, the Rays first road trip was a bump-a-minute ride that shook a young squad enough that manager Joe Maddon noticed his dugout needed to be energized less than a month into the season.He identified a problem. He reacted. Thats what quality managers do.The DJ, the magician, the cockatoo, the penguins yes, theyre different. Its debatable whether these things matter or if theyre no better than a superstitious fan choosing never to wash his or her favorite jersey, despite stain and tatter earned over time. The unusual guests made fine Twitter fodder and talking points. (Which pregame guest was your favorite? became a predictable media question by Wednesday afternoon.)But, certainly, the Rays elevated play against the Oakland Athletics in a sweep last weekend and in taking two of three against the Yankees the last three days was more to credit for their rise from a 5-10 start.This much is clear: Maddon noticed something was wrong. Perhaps it was bad juju from a string of curious calls by umpires in Arlington, Texas, and Baltimore. Perhaps it was the way the Rays struggled to produce in key moments at the plate. Perhaps it was the odd start by ace left-hander David Price, who remains winless after five appearances on the mound.Still, these Rays were different at home. The numbers tell it: A 5-1 homestand with 28 runs and 49 hits produced. The atmosphere tells it: positive reactions on the field and loud postgame beats in the clubhouse (Pitbulls Dont Stop the Party was popular). The words tell it: That was a tough, tough road trip, said right-hander Alex Cobb, who surrendered three hits in 8 13 innings Wednesday. It was becoming not fun to be in the clubhouse. We definitely made up for that this homestand with the fun.True, but Tampa Bays offensive turnaround, in particular, was most noticeable. Consider: Through their first 12 games, the Rays scored 35 runs in 107 innings, while batting .205 with five home runs. Meanwhile, since April 16, Tampa Bay has 44 runs and 17 home runs.It was more of a normalcy about us, Maddon said of the homestand. More of a confident kind of a method or feel. In the beginning of the year, nobody was hitting, (there were) a lot of new guys. Nothing was really working at that time. But again, weve been in this position before and gone to the playoffs.Baseball is a game of flow, of change and recovery and fighting through failure. Each team, at some point, faces what the Rays did at the start of this homestand. It was only 15 games into their eighth season under Maddon, but the Rays task looked sizable against the As and Yankees, two of the majors hottest teams upon their arrivals.Many presumed the Rays to be an American League East favorite in a year when the division figures to be as competitive as ever. They stumbled at the start. But like potential contenders do, they showed an ability to address what bothered them. And no, this wont be the last time this summer theyll be asked to do such a thing.You can definitely say that guys are starting to hit and are more confident, Rays infielder Sean Rodriguez said.Moving forward, the Rays confidence will be put to the test. Thursday, they begin an 11-day, 10-game road trip against the Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals and Colorado Rockies. The Royals and Rockies, in particular, figure to be interesting tests. Both lead their respective divisions. In all, Rays opponents on the upcoming swing hold a combined 32-27 record.Baseball is a mental game, an emotional exercise, and the Rays recovery during this homestand showed as much. Yes, we saw the DJ and the magician, the cockatoo and the penguins. We saw the odd and interesting, the surreal and strange. But we also saw something more important: An effective team thats almost back to .500.You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Giants’ Victor Cruz cleared to practice

PETA sends Warren Sapp vegan lobster following shark bite

Report: Josh McCown has looked better at times than RG3

Mike Trout does David Ortiz impersonation

Suspended Steelers WR Martavis Bryant set to help coach HS football


Tickets for ‘Monday Night Football’ game in Mexico sell out

Kevin Durant says he never told Russell Westbrook he was staying in OKC

God Shammgod hired by Mavericks as player development assistant

Soccer player terminates contract after being attacked by stray dogs

Todd Bowles confirms Ryan Fitzpatrick is Jets starting QB: ‘It’s his job’

Carmelo Anthony shocked Dwyane Wade left Miami for Chicago

Giants acquire All-Star Eduardo Nunez from the Twins

Vikings QB injured trying to kick open door

Josh Gordon thankful for support from Browns

Report: Seahawks DE Chris Clemons retiring

Denard Robinson blames falling asleep at stoplight for pond crash

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Hue Jackson: Browns will give Josh Gordon a fresh start

Diamondbacks nearing Daniel Hudson trade

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

What would George Costanza have traded to get Bonds and Griffey?

Gabby Douglas can make USA Gymnastics history at Olympics

Week 3 will determine the Big Ten's reputation this season

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker