Monday, April 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays beat Astros, take three of four

ST. PETERSBURG — Even through a dismal stretch that dropped them to the bottom of the standings, the Rays remained insistent that their ugly numbers would eventually balance out.

With Sunday's 5-2 victory over Houston, those numbers look like they're starting to add up to wins.

Not only did the Rays (31-46) earn their seventh victory in their past 11 games and take the series over the Astros; they did so despite giving up a home run on the game's first pitch and losing two replay challenges — including Desmond Jennings' failed attempt at stealing home — while starting to resemble a team that began the year with World Series aspirations.

"I don't want to speak too soon …" Evan Longoria said. "Whatever it is, we've got to try to stick to that."

The win in front of a Tropicana Field crowd of 13,841 marked the second straight game in which good pitching, hitting and defense finally clicked, despite having several opportunities to unravel.

Houston's Dexter Fowler took the game's first pitch 386 feet to leftfield for his second leadoff home run in eight days against the Rays. Then Longoria missed a tag on Jonathan Villar's replay-aided steal of third, and MLB hits leader Jose Altuve's RBI single gave Houston a 2-1 lead in the third.

But the Rays' pitchers found success after that. Against his former team, starter Erik Bedard had six of his eight strikeouts after that steal, thanks in part to rediscovering the curveball manager Joe Maddon adores.

"Last game, I kind of forgot about it," Bedard said.

The Rays' defense tightened up, too, turning just its second double play in the past 18 games, and the offense built on Saturday night's eight-run performance.

Jennings tried to add to the offense when he tried to steal home off lefty Dallas Keuchel but was called out — with Longoria at the plate.

"I saw an opportunity to get a run," Jennings said, "and I went for it."

The runs finally came in the sixth inning, when Yunel Escobar knocked a go-ahead, two-run single down the first-base line. Sean Rodriguez also drove in two runs for a team that has started to get timely hitting.

After going 2-for-24 with runners in scoring position over the previous three games, the Rays have nine hits in those situations in the past two days.

"I'd like to see it become a trend," Maddon said.

So would the rest of the Rays, who remain at the bottom of the league and need to go 19-4 to reach Maddon's short-term goal of climbing to .500 by the 100th game. But three wins over Houston in four games is a start.

"We won," said Longoria, who had an RBI and matched a season high with three hits. "That's the bottom line, and that's really at this point all I care about."

Times staff writer Matt Baker can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @MBakerTBTimes.

Comments
Rays are suddenly swinging hot bats, but will it last?

Rays are suddenly swinging hot bats, but will it last?

ST. PETERSBURG — Good pitching and hitting go hand in glove, but the Rays did not look like a team that could swing the bats very well until this completed homestand.In their series sweep over the Twins, Tampa Bay scored 8, 10 and 8 runs. ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rick Stroudís takeaways from Rays-Twins

Rick Stroudís takeaways from Rays-Twins

–Yonny Chirinos may be the Rays fourth starter, but it seems to be in name only. He was lifted after pitching 4 2/3 innings against the Twin on Sunday, the shortest start of his career and his second-shortest appearance.  "Going into the g...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Raysí Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

Raysí Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

ST. PETERSBURG — With every swing, there is a chance Carlos Gomez is going to do something extraordinary with the baseball bat.He may swing so violently that he spins himself into the ground as if he were an oil drill. Or, you could see him sna...
Updated: 12 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Twins, going for the first series sweep of the season, 1:10 p.m.

For starters: Rays vs. Twins, going for the first series sweep of the season, 1:10 p.m.

Rays pitcher Yonny Chirinos is no longer just part of a bullpen day, he's the No. 4 starter and who goes to the mound at 1:10 p.m. against Phil Hughes to try to help Tampa Bay attempt to complete a three-game sweep of the Twins.Catcher Wilson Ramos g...
Published: 04/22/18
Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Members of the Rays organization sent their thoughts and prayers to former teammate Danny Farquhar, who was hospitalized Saturday night in Chicago in stable but critical condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm.Farqu...
Published: 04/22/18
Rays on Sunday: 1:10 vs. Twins

Rays on Sunday: 1:10 vs. Twins

Sunday vs. Twins1:10, Tropicana FieldTV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 760-AM (Spanish)Tickets: $20-$300; available at Tropicana Field box office, raysbaseball.com, surcharge of up to $5 within five hours of game.Promotion: Mascot socks for kids 14 a...
Published: 04/22/18
Rays Journal: Team effort pays off in 10-1 win over Twins

Rays Journal: Team effort pays off in 10-1 win over Twins

ST. PETERSBURG – Let's be clear here, the Rays still have a long way to go, and a lot of ground to make up.But seeing them play like they did Saturday in beating the Twins 10-1, putting on a solid all-around show in cobbling their first three-g...
Published: 04/21/18
Updated: 04/22/18
Marc Topkinís takeaways from Raysí 10-1 Saturday win over Twins

Marc Topkinís takeaways from Raysí 10-1 Saturday win over Twins

* Is it time to take the leap and believe this is the real Blake Snell? He talked a good game this spring and pitched well in his debut, but that rough second outing raised old doubts. But a good outing in Chicago and two dominant ones on the homesta...
Published: 04/21/18
Rays Tales: How low can this team go compared to those Devil Rays days?

Rays Tales: How low can this team go compared to those Devil Rays days?

When the Rays, in the opening weekend of their 20th anniversary celebration season, brought back and honored the inaugural 1998 Devil Rays squad, it got us thinking unexpected thoughts, such as which was a better team:The first one, or the current on...
Published: 04/21/18
Rays will go forth with four starters

Rays will go forth with four starters

ST. PETERSBURG — Three weeks was enough for the Rays to officially ditch their three-man rotation plan.Starting Sunday, they will go forth with Yonny Chirinos as their fourth starter.Which is a five-star idea.The flaws in the three-man plan ...
Published: 04/21/18