ST. PETERSBURG — The drought was so severe that it's still probably too soon to say the Rays are out of it, but scoring a half-dozen runs in Tuesday's 6-5 win over the Blue Jays was another promising sign.
After three on Sunday and six on Saturday, the 15 in three games looks like a heap after plating just 24 in a 14-game stretch through Friday.
"We're still in that mode that we're looking to get out of some offensive issues, and anytime we're putting crooked numbers up and we've got guys on base, that helps the tone going forward," manager Kevin Cash said.
After logging back-to-back wins for the first time since Aug. 2-3 in Houston, the Rays improved to 62-65 and, at the worst, held their ground four games back in the crowded American League wild-card field.
With four runs from his mates in the first two innings, RHP Chris Archer had some room to work and turned in another strong outing, allowing three runs (one earned, on a leadoff homer by Nori Aoki) while striking out 10. RHP Alex Colome finished, after allowing two on and one in, for his majors-most and career high-tying 37th save.
"We've been grinding a little bit here, it's really nice for our offense to come out and put up a bunch of runs early," Archer said. "I think that kind of relaxed the rest of the team."
Cash said he was most pleased with how the Rays immediately evened the score on a long Lucas Duda homer in the first. Better were the three runs in the second, on a smooth-looking homer by Corey Dickerson then an actual rally with a single, a walk and a two-run triple by sizzling CF Kevin Kiermaier, now 7-for-17 in his return from the DL.
3B Evan Longoria had a hand in the final two runs, scoring after a double, an error and the first of two infield singles on the night by C Wilson Ramos, then tripling in Adeiny Hechavarria.
"It felt like everybody was doing something tonight," said Dickerson, who had just his ninth multi-hit game since the All-Star break. "It kind of flowed over from that win the other day, and definitely guys had more energy playing the game the right way."
Plouffe sent packing
INF Trevor Plouffe was designated for assignment after the game, having hit just .178 in 31 games and been made expendable by the additions of Duda to back up at first base and OF Cesar Puello as an additional right-handed bat.
RHP Andrew Kittredge was called up to join the Rays tonight but will likely have a short stay as they have to activate RHP Alex Cobb off the DL to start Thursday.
Puello said he has quickly gotten adjusted to his new Rays mates after being claimed on waivers Saturday from the Angels and is eager to show what he can do, with a start likely Thursday vs. LHP J.A. Happ. "I'm here to keep working hard, do my best and control what I can control," he said. "I'm waiting for them to give me an opportunity but I have to be patient at the same time."
Quote of the day
"It was probably good to get an off day, not come to the ballpark, not see each other, not see me."
Cash on the benefits of Monday's off day, following a 4-12 stretch.
Cobb, out since Aug. 5 due to turf toe, said he is "good to go" for his Thursday return. … RHP Matt Andriese (hip) will make a rehab start for Triple-A Durham tonight, with one more Monday before an early September return. … RHP Jake Faria said the abdominal strain that landed him on the DL Sunday "feels a lot better" and he doesn't expect to be out long, but he hasn't done much since beyond playing light catch.
Numbers of the day
35, 33 Games remaining for Rays, games against teams within five games of a playoff spot.
. Rookie RHP Austin Pruitt starts tonight saying he'll take the seven innings and career-high 100 pitches as positives from his last outing, when he allowed the Mariners six runs and 11 hits.
. RF Steven Souza Jr. reached base for the 26th straight game vs. the Jays, the most ever by any Ray and the most against Toronto since Boston's Dustin Pedroia did 38 in a row 2014-16.