ST. PETERSBURG -- As Ben Zobrist was signing baseballs, his wife, Julianna, was signing CDs.
The couple held a meet-and-greet at the Rays Team Store at Tropicana Field on Saturday afternoon before Tampa Bay's matchup with Baltimore to promote Julianna's new album, "Say It Now."
"We signed a lot of autographs and sold a lot of CDs," Ben said. "It was a great event and great to just connect with some people, too."
The Rays veteran said that for 2 1/2 hours, there was a steady line of fans who wished to meet the two and have their memorabilia signed.
Fans who frequent Tropicana Field for Rays games may already recognize the album's hit single, "Behind Me," which plays before each of Ben's at-bats. He added that the album is starting to gain some airtime on the radio and hopes the Christian-inspired music will gain even more support from local stations.
Improved D key to Rays' pitching prowess
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays have been proving lately that they don't need to score many runs to win.
Tampa Bay entered Saturday's game against Baltimore having won five of its last six and relying heavily on its pitching staff, which in that span had allowed just five runs, four of which came in the club's only loss.
The Rays' strong pitching hasn't been confined to the past week, either. Since the All-Star break, the club leads the Majors with a 2.34 ERA and is holding opposing batters to a .202 average.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he feels the strong run can continue.
"Our guys are well; they're healthy," Maddon said. "I don't think their innings pitched are too high, nor number of pitches thrown. I'm talking about the starters and relievers."
At times, the pitching staff has been tasked with lots of work, including a 14-inning game on July 20 and a 15-inning contest 10 days later. Maddon said that as the season progresses, he thinks his starters will continue to pitch deeper into games to help preserve the bullpen, which has a Major League-best 1.40 ERA since the break.
"That's going to take an inning or two off here or there, and that's going to be helpful," Maddon said. "The young starters are going to start going deeper into games. I like the pitching a lot, not a little, and I think that's going to be the key to our success."
Unquestionably, Tampa Bay's defense has played a hand in keeping opponents off the scoreboard. In the 86 games before the break, the club committed 71 errors, but in the 20 games since, that total is just seven -- tied for third fewest in the Majors.
"When you're catching the ball, you have to make less pitches; the pitcher has more defense," Maddon said. "When you're catching the ball, you're probably in a better state of mind. When you don't make mistakes, you feel better about yourselves. There's a lot of complementary things that occur when you do those things well and right."
Maddon said that third baseman Evan Longoria -- recovering from a partially torn left hamstring -- felt sore after Friday's rehab start with Triple-A Durham but would be fine to play on Saturday and would likely have Sunday off. Longoria went 0-for-4 with a walk on Friday. In six games with Durham -- all as the designated hitter -- he is 3-for-19 (.158) with six walks and seven strikeouts.
The Rays have sold out of tickets for their first "Bark in the Park" event, to take place during Sunday's 1:40 p.m. ET game. Fans can bring their dog to a special seating area, and the game will also feature a DJ Kitty bobblehead giveaway and a postgame concert by The Wiggles.
Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.