As he turned to flip his bat toward the dugout after drawing a leadoff walk in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s season opener, Kelly Johnson saw CF Desmond Jennings walking to the plate and thought, “It’s go time.”


“It’s exciting. Hey, man, we got top of the order coming up,” Johnson said. “This is exactly what we wanted, and we got some runs out of it.”


Johnson, running on a 3-2 pitch, scored from first base when Jennings doubled down the left-field line. Jennings scored on a sacrifice fly as the Rays turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead.


It was that type of inning manager Joe Maddon envisions with Johnson batting ninth ahead of Jennings.


“I know he’s batting ninth, but I like the idea better of him hitting in front of Jennings,” Maddon said.


Johnson has had 88 plate appearances as a No.?9 hitter during his career. He responded with a .402 on base percentage that includes a .261 average.


“I think Desmond should get him a better pitch and he can drive the ball,” Maddon said. “Kelly, historically, will strike out a little bit and that’s OK. But in that spot right there I don’t mind. It’s a spot where he can drive the baseball or if he gets on base he can utilize his speed in front of Desmond like he did (Tuesday).”