Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays rally past Mariners to break skid

SEATTLE — The Rays seemed headed for a fittingly futile finale to their dreadful West Coast road trip Sunday, loading the bases with no outs in the seventh inning of a one-run game with the pesky Mariners and getting absolutely nothing out of it.

"I honestly thought, 'That's got to be about it.' Uncle at that point," manager Joe Maddon said. "I really, in a perverse way, felt something good has to happen after that. Has to. Because you can't sink to any lower lows than that."

With all the Rays' talk about staying positive and keeping the faith as they kept losing games and their margin of comfort for a playoff spot, they actually delivered, finding that "something" and heading home buoyed by a vital 4-1 win.

First James Loney, with two on in the eighth, doubled in the tying run. Then Sean Rodriguez, who made the inexcusable mistake Friday of getting picked off second, delivered the winner, a pinch-hit single that, thanks to a Seattle error, scored two.

"Instant gratification," Rodriguez said. "Instant redemption."

As they packed for the cross-country flight eager to leave the West Coast behind — having gone 3-7 on the trip, 3-12 for the season, including Arizona — and enjoy today's final off day of the season, all the Rays were feeling better about themselves.

Though still 7½ games behind the American League East-leading Red Sox, whom they host next in a three-game series that won't be quite the anticipated showdown, the Rays (78-64) moved two games ahead of the Indians and Orioles, who both lost, for the second wild-card spot and stayed 21/2 ahead of the Yankees and 31/2 of the Royals. They are three behind Texas for the top wild card.

"Momentum is a big factor in this game and we definitely got it right now," Rodriguez said. "That's all we wanted, to have a little momentum so that way at least the spirits are up.

"Everybody here comes ready to play every day. So with 20 games left, don't count us out — that's for sure. We'll hold on to this thing."

Sunday morning, despite having lost 11 of 14, Maddon sat in the dugout and talked about how they needed to remain committed to their process and themselves and confident they would rebound.

"I know we're better than this," he insisted. "I know we've got better results in us."

Sunday afternoon, Maddon sat behind his office desk and talked about the importance of that belief and how this one win could now propel them to a solid finish over the final 20 games.

"The thing is, everybody goes through bad moments," he said. "Everybody does. Every team out there has gone through bad moments this year. Ours is just occurring right now, and a lot of it is that it is a tough trip. … It was kind of a buzz saw moment, and we survived it in a sense, and we get to go back home.

"Of course you've got to believe. I believe every moment of every day. I never lost faith in any of this. You're kind of looking for that moment when you can break through again. It happens today, and it happens at a good time before you go home."

After Rodriguez gave them the lead, with his first career pinch-hit-winning RBI, they still had to hold it. Joel Peralta walked two of the first three in the eighth, struck out Franklin Gutierrez, then had to deal with Raul Ibanez, who was 4-for-6 against him. "I didn't want to face that dude," Peralta said.

But too much had gone wrong for too long. Peralta got ahead with a fouled-off fastball, then threw two changeups, his best pitches of the day, to end the threat. The Rays added an insurance run in the ninth — though, fittingly, only one despite getting two walks, two singles and two doubles — and Fernando Rodney finished.

Most importantly, the Rays went home happy.

"It's going to be a very interesting finish," Maddon said. "I have total faith our guys are going to get it done."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

   
Comments
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays loss to Red Sox

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays loss to Red Sox

Marc Topkin's takeaways from Rays 4-2 loss to Red Sox on Tuesday:* The Rays record against a Red Sox team they consider a measuring stick doesn't look very good at 3-8. But, as manager Kevin Cash and several players pointed out, there is some consola...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays journal: Critics don’t faze Sergio Romo or team

Rays journal: Critics don’t faze Sergio Romo or team

ST. PETERSBURG — Criticisms of the Rays' latest innovative pitching strategy have piled up since Angels INF Zack Cosart said after Sunday's game that starting RHP Sergio Romo to get the first three-six outs was "bad for baseball.''One of the lo...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Willy Adames homers, but Rays fall to Red Sox and suffer injuries

Willy Adames homers, but Rays fall to Red Sox and suffer injuries

ST. PETERSBURG — Top prospect Willy Adames is only going to get to stay with the Rays for a few days, so good for him for making the most of it with a home run in his first big-league game, and off Red Sox ace Chris Sale no less.But the good fe...
Updated: 4 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Faria on the mound

For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Faria on the mound

UPDATE, 6:04: Cash said the Rays don't know yet if Wendle will be  back Thursday or Friday, though with the Sox starting RHP Rick Porcello on Thursday that would make sense. …  Cash said OF Carlos Gomez (groin strain) will run the bas...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays call up top prospect Willy Adames – but only for a couple days

Rays call up top prospect Willy Adames – but only for a couple days

The Rays have called up top prospect INF Willy Adames – though likely for a short stay.INF Joey Wendle was placed on the paternity list Tuesday, which allows him to miss up to three days.Manager Kevin Cash said Adames is headed back to Triple-A...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays journal: Christian Arroyo set to play first game at Tropicana Field

Rays journal: Christian Arroyo set to play first game at Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG  — Christian Arroyo has watched more than 50 Rays games at Tropicana Field from the stands. Has been on the turf for his younger sister's gymnastics competitions and once, while it was in football configuration, to take grou...
Published: 05/21/18
There’s a swing by Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier …. and a gender reveal for November baby

There’s a swing by Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier …. and a gender reveal for November baby

Tampa Bay Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier and his wife Marisa are having a boy.Kiermaier shared the news on Twitter over the weekend in a most appropriate themed gender reveal event — taking a swing at ball that exploded with blue powder.Looks like im ...
Published: 05/21/18
What’s next for the Rays’ new pitching strategy

What’s next for the Rays’ new pitching strategy

ST. PETERSBURG — When Kevin Cash called team president Matt Silverman Sunday morning to wish him happy birthday, he expected to get back some form of an "attaboy" for implementing the Rays' latest unorthodox pitching strategy in using reliever ...
Published: 05/21/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Angels game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Angels game

* It's always interesting to think of how many amazing plays you see made in a game, then often a simple one — such as the fourth-inning comebacker to Rays RHP Matt Andriese — gets messed up and costs teams heavily, as that led to two run...
Published: 05/20/18
Rays journal: Pitching plan works, until Sergio Romo leaves in second inning

Rays journal: Pitching plan works, until Sergio Romo leaves in second inning

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Doubling down on their innovativeness and starting veteran reliever Sergio Romo for a second straight day worked out fine Sunday for the Rays.It was the less-effective pitchers who followed, plus the ineffectiveness of their h...
Published: 05/20/18