Friday, July 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays complete sweep of Tigers for 5th win in a row

ST. PETERSBURG — A bizarre season of unprecedented pitching schemes, unenviable scheduling and several unrecognizable names has yielded an unthinkable result.

The Rays will enter the all-star break no worse than .500.

"We're just getting started," center fielder Kevin Kiermaier said.

Extending their most successful stretch in three years, the Rays (48-44) got a two-out, three-run home run from first baseman C.J. Cron in the seventh inning to rally for a 4-2 triumph Wednesday afternoon against Detroit before a Tropicana Field audience of 13,922.

The victory gave Tampa Bay, winner of five in a row, a sweep for the fourth time in its last five home series. The Rays are 14-1 at home since June 11, matching the best 15-game stretch in club history.

They begin a four-game series at Minnesota starting Thursday night, then adjourn for the break.

They'll emerge from it in better position than most would've envisioned a few months back, when it began unloading some of its most prominent names and sprung the bullpen-days concept on its fan base.

"We're getting a lot of buy-in from guys right now," Manager Kevin Cash said.

"We're asking starters to come out of the bullpen, we're asking relievers to…open games for us. They all want roles, and I want 'em to have roles, but they're also buying in."

On Wednesday, they got another of those serviceable bullpen days from five pitchers (who combined to allow seven hits), as well as a sparkling afternoon from Kiermaier (3-for-5), who gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead with a leadoff homer in the third.

The only glitch: Tigers catcher James McCann's two-run blast in the fourth off Matt Andriese, who relieved "opener" Hunter Wood after one inning and struck out five in a row at one point.

The Rays' offense sputtered from there, but relievers Ryan Yarbrough, Diego Castillo and Sergio Romo combined to allow two hits over the last five innings.

"Our pitching was outstanding," Cash said.

Cron's blast off Tigers right-handed starter Jordan Zimmerman — after singles by Kiermaier and Matt Duffy — ended an 0-for-8  Rays drought with runners in scoring position and gave the Rays a 4-2 lead.

"I think he threw me a little cutter-slider, not really where he wanted to throw it," Cron said. "Just thankfully I got a good swing on it."

Mallex Smith preserved the lead — almost single-handedly — in the top of the eighth.

Switching from right field to left to open the inning, Smith played a Nicholas Castellanos leadoff double off the wall effectively enough to almost throw Castellanos out at second.

Then with two out, after Castellanos had reached third on a throwing error by new right fielder Carlos Gomez, Smith made a diving snag of a sharp Victor Martinez shot to end the inning.

"Huge," Cash said. "Off Victor's bat, that's a for-sure base hit, and Mallex just covers ground like very few people can."

Romo finished things off with a perfect ninth to send the Rays northward.

And definitely upward.

"I just keep saying it every day, every time you guys ask me questions — it's just a fun group to be a part of," Kiermaier said.

"We all get along with each other, we all vibe very well, and it's a lot of fun coming to the field each and every day."

Contact Joey Knight at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

Comments
Marc Topkin: Rays should trade Chris Archer

Marc Topkin: Rays should trade Chris Archer

ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Archer wants the Rays to get going.Trade more veterans. Bring back Willy Adames and bring up the next group of kids. Get on with getting better, and get back to reaching the postseason, as they did four times over six yea...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: Catcher needed with Wilson Ramos on DL

Rays journal: Catcher needed with Wilson Ramos on DL

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays did not have any answers Thursday about the state of their catching situation as to how long Wilson Ramos will be out and who will be added to replace him Friday against the Marlins.Ramos was placed on the DL Wednesday...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Dodgers land All-Star shortstop Manny Machado from Orioles

Dodgers land All-Star shortstop Manny Machado from Orioles

The Los Angeles Dodgers won the Manny Machado sweepstakes, getting the prized All-Star shortstop from the Baltimore Orioles in a trade Wednesday night. The Orioles received five prospects: outfielder Yusniel Diaz, right-handers Dean Kremer and Zach P...
Published: 07/19/18
Rays place Wilson Ramos on DL for potential extended absence, seek replacement

Rays place Wilson Ramos on DL for potential extended absence, seek replacement

ST. PETERSBURG – The Rays made the inevitable move Wednesday of placing catcher Wilson Ramos on the disabled list while still looking for a replacement.Ramos, 30, strained his left hamstring Saturday in Minnesota, which forced him out of Tuesda...
Published: 07/18/18
An all-or-nothing All-Star Game

An all-or-nothing All-Star Game

WASHINGTON — Tuesday's All-Star Game was exciting, dramatic, historic — and perfectly representative of the 2018 season, what with the unprecedented power show, display of blazing arms creating a fan club (25 strikeouts), and the emotion ...
Published: 07/18/18
Rays reinstate discount pizza promotion with Papa John’s after corporate action

Rays reinstate discount pizza promotion with Papa John’s after corporate action

The Rays reinstated the discount pizza promotion with Papa John's based on actions taken by corporate officials after the ouster of founder John Schnatter following reports he used a racial slur.The Rays had suspended the promotion, which offers half...
Published: 07/18/18
MLB: Brewers’ Josh Hader must take sensitivity training after tweets

MLB: Brewers’ Josh Hader must take sensitivity training after tweets

WASHINGTON — Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader will be required to go through sensitivity training after years-old racist and homophobic tweets of his resurfaced during the All-Star Game, Major League Baseball said Wednesday. MLB announced that th...
Published: 07/18/18
MLB player poll: Rays (and Marlins) fans are ‘the worst’

MLB player poll: Rays (and Marlins) fans are ‘the worst’

Rays fans and Tropicana Field are routinely ripped by media and out-of-towners, and the usual defense is the critics don't really know what they're talking about.Well, now the major-league players have spoken.Or at least some of them.Rays fans shared...
Published: 07/18/18
Record 10 homers as AL wins All-Star Game, 8-6, in 10 innings

Record 10 homers as AL wins All-Star Game, 8-6, in 10 innings

WASHINGTON — A record 10 home runs . A slew of strikeouts. The all-or-nothing All-Star Game mirrored what baseball has become. Astros teammates Alex Bregman and George Springer homered on consecutive pitches to begin the 10th inning, and the American...
Published: 07/18/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Blake Snell’s All-Star debut

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Blake Snell’s All-Star debut

The Rays' Blake Snell makes his All-Star debut with a memorable first pitch, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says he likes the Rays' new stadium plans, and there is controversy at the Home Run Derby.Plus, Florida head coach Dan Mullen says the Gators ha...
Published: 07/18/18