ST. PETERSBURG -- Robinson Chirinos may have hit his first Major League home run Wednesday night, but his encore on Thursday afternoon took the cake.
Chirinos was at the heart of a thrilling, 7-6, 12-inning win over the Blue Jays, in which the Rays came back from a pair of deficits in extras. When it was all said and done, the rookie backstop had produced a tying single in the 11th and a walk-off knock with two outs in the 12th to add to his fast-growing resume.
It was just Wednesday that Chirinos hit his first big league dinger, in what was just his 12th game since his inaugural callup.
Wednesday night's performance brought to mind the bat the Rays witnessed during Spring Training, when Chirinos hit .429 (9-for-21) with two home runs, two doubles, a triple and eight RBIs. After beginning the season at Triple-A Durham, he now appears to be finding his way at the plate in the Major Leagues.
Chirinos and hitting coach Derek Shelton have worked on a few things during the past week to tweak Chirinos' swing.
"We've been working on getting ready and seeing the ball a little sooner," Chirinos said. "We've been doing it for the last week, so it was good to see some results last night."
Chirinos said a lot of hitting problems he's had can be traced to not being in hitting position at the right time. Now he says he's starting his move earlier, which gives him a "better chance to see the ball and have a better swing."
Chirinos and Shelton have looked at film from Spring Training.
"Just trying to get myself comfortable at the plate," Chirinos said. "And [Wednesday] I felt really comfortable."
Shelton noted that Spring Training is a "hard indicator" for assessing talent.
"Especially for guys who haven't been in the big leagues, because of when they play in games, there are a lot of fastballs early on," Shelton said. "I think there were a lot of things we saw in Spring Training that we liked. But he got off to a rough start to start the season at Triple-A. And then he'd been coming on, so I think we just continued on with what they've been talking about."
Shelton allowed that Chirinos is a good student.
"He's a good listener and I think he understands," Shelton said. "He's a good kid. For everything we've talked about, he's been very diligent and worked on it, he's worked very hard."
Goo Goo Dolls to headline big weekend at Trop
ST. PETERSBURG -- As part of a big weekend for the Rays, the Goo Goo Dolls will perform at Tropicana Field on Saturday after the game.
But they won't be the only group taking the stage on Tampa Bay's home field this weekend. The Go-Go's will hold a concert following Friday's game, all of this as part of the 2011 Rays Summer Concert Series.
Both performances can be seen for free with the purchase of that game's ticket, something Robby Takac, a member of the Goo Goo Dolls, says can add to the fun of singing in front of sports fans.
"It's a spectacle all the time, so it's a lot of fun," he said. "But for a band, it gives you a chance to get in front of some people that aren't your traditional music listeners. Maybe we'll make some new fans."
This won't be the first time the Goo Goo Dolls take a dip into the sporting world to hold a concert, though. They have entertained crowds at football, hockey and basketball games, as well as other baseball games.
Takac promised to perform hit songs like "Slide," "Name," and "Iris." But he also said the group has some new tunes for Rays fans.
"We have some brand new stuff that hasn't even been released at all, other than on some people's camera phones at this point," Takac said. "There are certain songs that we know we aren't going to get out of the room without playing, and we love playing those, too."
Zobrist back in groove; Longoria scuffling
ST. PETERSBURG -- Entering Thursday afternoon's action, Ben Zobrist had six home runs in his last 21 games after snapping a 33-game homerless drought on July 7, the third-longest power outage of his career.
Zobrist cranked seven long balls over the first 25 contests of the season. Since July 5, Zobrist has hit safely in 19 of 23 games, batting .379 (33-for-87) with 14 extra-base hits, 22 RBIs, 17 walks, and five stolen bases.
At the other end of the spectrum, Evan Longoria entered Thursday afternoon's action with a .091 average (3-for-33) in his last 10 games.
In addition, the Rays third baseman is hitting .145 (11-for-76) over his last 21 home games.
James Shields received a season-high nine runs of support from the Rays' offense on Wednesday night. That trumped the previous high of five the Rays right-hander had gotten this season. He entered Wednesday night's game with the third-lowest run-support average in the Major Leagues, at 2.75 runs per nine innings.
Wednesday night's crowd of 11,803 pushed the Rays past the one-million mark in attendance for the season, with 1,003,740. The Rays are the last American League team to surpass the million mark this season. The only other team in the Major Leagues not to have exceeded that mark is the Marlins, with 986,524.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Anthony Chiang is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.