ANAHEIM -- With Jeremy Hellickson making his return to the rotation Wednesday night, the core of the rotation -- formed before Chris Archer's arrival -- was reunited for the first time since mid May.
"Yeah, we've been dealing with different kinds of pitching adversity since then," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I think it reflects on our record a little bit. We probably would have had two or three more wins if all the boys had been together and throwing like they could from the beginning. But it happens to everybody."
During the time in between, David Price, Alex Cobb and Matt Moore all were on the disabled list, and Hellickson had a hiatus from the team to rest prior to Wednesday night's win.
Hellickson threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing four hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
"It's back to normal, it feels like, which is weird, because we've only had like two weeks when we've been all together," Cobb said. "So we were all sitting around in the hotel room the other day and we were saying, 'Finally, we're going to be back together again and things are going to be the way they should have been.'"
Cobb said the group has "gotten really close over the last three years."
"I think we really feed off of each other's energy, like we saw last year," Cobb said. "Everybody was trying to outdo the previous starter's performance, and it was a friendly competition. I think we're going to be able to have that competition going again. That and the September run we're about to go on, that should definitely bring out the best in all of our performances."
Cobb believes the adversity all of them have faced has drawn the group even closer.
"I do," Cobb said. "Obviously every time one of us is coming back -- we pull for each other every outing, but when it's that first time back, everybody's out there treating it like it's a playoff game for that pitcher to come through. We saw it last night with Helly -- when David came back, when Matt came back in this series.
"We've all been really excited to see how that pitcher takes on that challenge. And I definitely think it's given us some added motivation throughout the year. I feel like every time we need a little boost or a punch in the arm, we get a starter coming back that night putting together a good performance."
Myers' multihomer game has rookie in rare company
ANAHEIM -- Wil Myers snapped out of his slump Wednesday night with two home runs and three RBIs in the Rays' 3-1 win against the Angels.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Myers became the first Major League rookie to hit two or more home runs, accounting for all of his team's runs, in a win since Pittsburgh's Garrett Jones in a 2-1 victory against the Giants on July 17, 2009.
Myers is the third player in Rays history (first rookie) to do it. Dan Johnson did it on Sept. 15, 2010, and Damian Rolls did it on June 23, 2003, both against the Yankees. Myers also became the second Rays rookie to have more than one multihomer game, joining Evan Longoria, who had three in '08.
Speaking of Longoria, he had T-shirts made with the Rays' logo on the front and "Team Wil" on the back.
Manager Joe Maddon was asked how a rookie who has been in the Major Leagues for such a short period could pull off having a T-shirt made in his honor.
"He has to be both good and well-liked," Maddon said. "You can be one or the other, but I think the combination of being really good and also well-liked within the group permits something like that to happen."
Myers wore one of the shirts before Thursday night's game against the Angels and noted it would be a "game-time decision" whether he wore it underneath his uniform. He allowed that he liked the shirts and said it was the first team shirt on which he's been featured.
"I'm pretty excited about it," Myers said.
Myers continued to smile when asked about the characters Maddon has compared him to this season. Earlier, Maddon said Myers reminded him of Nuke LaLoosh, played by Tim Robbins in "Bull Durham." Now Maddon is going with Ricky Bobby, played by Will Ferrell in "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby."
"I don't know. I don't get it, really," Myers said of Maddon's most recent comparison. "I don't feel like I'm anything like him at all. But whatever he likes."
As for which he preferred, LaLoosh or Bobby?
"Probably Ricky Bobby," Myers said. "I like Will Ferrell."
Maddon smiled when told Myers didn't really like the comparison.
"He doesn't like that and that's OK," said Maddon, noting that the fact he doesn't like the comparison makes the comparison even better.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.