BALTIMORE — So many nights, the Rays lineup has looked desperate for help, with a major trade acquisition appearing to be the only possible solution to the maddening inconsistency.
And there are some nights, such as when the Rays are facing the woeful Orioles, when they look like they don't need a darn thing.
Monday, the Rays battered their way to an 8-1 victory over the brutally bad Baltimore bunch, eliminating any concerns about the lingering listlessness from the weekend in New York with a seven-run third inning.
Actually, the Orioles hitters made Wade Davis look pretty good, too — or, as the Rays would prefer to see it, Davis looked pretty good against the Orioles hitters, with an impressive eight-inning outing to win his second straight after losing five in a row.
"It just seems like some nights the game comes easy," third baseman Evan Longoria said, "and (Monday night) was one of those nights."
The win — their sixth in seven games vs. the Orioles — returned the Rays to their season-high mark of 20 games over .500 at 56-36 and moved them within 2½ games of the idle first-place Yankees.
The game was pretty well decided after the 11-batter, five-hit, two-walk, one-hit batter outburst in the third, the fourth time this season the Rays have scored seven in an inning.
"Kinda magical," manager Joe Maddon said. "We did a lot of good things right there."
There might not have been many points for artistic impression, but the Rays deserved some for resourcefulness, scoring on a walk, a single, a double, a triple and a sacrifice bunt (pulling off another safety squeeze).
"We've had those innings that have kind of stalled on us. That one did not stall," Maddon said.
Longoria led the Rays offense with three hits, including a pair of singles in the third. Seven players drove in runs, with Jason Bartlett the only one with more than one RBI.
"We need everyone to contribute," Maddon said. "We just can't look for one or two guys to get 'er done."
Davis had pitched well in two previous games against the Orioles, so setting up the rotation for him to start in Baltimore certainly wasn't coincidental. He was on again Monday, scattering seven hits over his eight innings and improving to 3-0, 0.75 ERA against them.
"He kind of flew under the radar a little bit, but he was really the star," Longoria said.
Maddon liked what Davis did and how he did it, noticing the increase in velocity — clocking regularly at 93-94 mph and hitting 95 and even 96 a few times — and sharpness of his curveball, and a corresponding rise in confidence, as the game went on.
"I saw a more assertive pitcher," Maddon said.
After a 6-9 first half that saw him go six weeks without a win, Davis said he is determined to show better over the remaining 2½ months, and Monday was a good start.
"It's good for confidence," Davis said. "It's big to get out and have a good game and the team to have a good game. It just feels good to have some things come together on you."
The Rays felt pretty good overall, relieved that there was no letdown — as Maddon was concerned about — after the intense weekend in New York. "You get that mega-emotion going on there," Maddon said. "Then you come here where it's not going to be nearly as vibrant in a sense, but we came out good."
And they got better from there.
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.