Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays win fourth straight, 11-5 over Toronto Blue Jays

ST. PETERSBURG — Normally, it's not a good night when your bullpen is in action four batters into a game. But this — dare we say it? — may be a special time for the Rays, who just may be working their way into position for another dramatic dash to the postseason.

The Rays barely seemed to notice the early departure of starter Matt Moore in clubbing the Blue Jays 11-5 Saturday night to win their fourth straight and move, at 82-70, within 3½ games of the sliding A's — who blew a four-run 13th-inning lead in New York — for the second American League wild-card spot with 10 left to play.

"I think everyone at this point is feeling some sort of pressure, that a couple mistakes can cost you," Evan Longoria said. "We understand we have to go out and win every game, and we're actually in a pretty good spot for this ballclub because we don't have any pressure on us. We don't have anybody crawling up our tail. We're just able to focus on the people that are in front of us and continue to try to put pressure on them."

They've certainly looked relaxed and much more productive.

They set a team record with 43 runs over a four-game span. They hit a season-high-tying four home runs, including a three-run blast by Longoria and a career-high 25th by B.J. Upton. They reached double digits in back-to-back home games for the first time since April 2010.

"I like watching ESPN highlights," Moore said, "and that's basically what we've been watching the last few days."

But what manager Joe Maddon was most enthused about was their discipline at the plate, evidenced by a walk/strikeout ratio of 25-16 over the four games. "The at-bats have been so good," he said. "It's most noticeable by us taking borderline pitches out of the zone."

Longoria said they are also more confident: "You kind of get that feeling, even when you get down in a game, that it's not going to matter, and we've had that before."

Moore lasted only until the third — his third consecutive start of four or fewer innings — though he says he's not worn down from his 172 innings. Maddon said he sensed the rookie lefty "just didn't have it" and went quickly to the bullpen, Burke Badenhop, who got the win, starting a parade of six relievers.

Longoria's second-inning homer, which struck a light on the C-ring catwalk, estimated at 413 feet (though Maddon said it may have been the longest he had seen at the Trop), pushed the Rays ahead 4-2 in the second, and they piled on from there. Desmond Jennings homered in the fourth, and Jose Molina and Upton went deep in a four-run sixth.

Maddon keeps saying how he wants his guys to just focus on one-game winning streaks. But he doesn't mind talking about the pressure the teams they're chasing may be feeling.

"It's tough when you're struggling and you want to get this done and you want to make it happen," he said. "You're always thinking in advance and you're living in the future a little too much, and that really is dangerous.

"Anxiety lives in the future. You've got to stay in the present, you've got focus on today, per at-bat, per pitch. That's what we've been doing. That's the big difference."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

Rays 11

Blue Jays 5

Hit Show?

The Rays have had their most offensive four-game stretch in team history, scoring 43 runs, two more than their previous high (Sept. 2010):

Day R H HR BB K

Wed. 13 15 2 10 5

Thurs. 7 10 1 3 4

Friday 12 16 2 5 5

Sat. 11 15 4 7 2

Tampa Bay Rays win fourth straight, 11-5 over Toronto Blue Jays 09/22/12 [Last modified: Sunday, September 23, 2012 12:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Sorry, Nebraska, Scott Frost appears interested in staying at UCF

    College
    Scott Frost has UCF undefeated with an important game at Navy next. [Getty Images]
  2. Tampa Bay Downs full of high-paying races this season

    Parimutuels

    OLDSMAR — Tampa Bay Downs is green like never before.

  3. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  4. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.
  5. Quarterback Jameis Winston will start Sunday for the Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Jameis Winston hadn't thrown in practice since he injured his right shoulder in Sunday's loss at Arizona, and with that uncertainty, a wide line of TV cameras and reporters' cellphones were all out Friday morning, recording the moment as Winston tested his shoulder with his first throws early in …

    Despite a sore shoulder, Jameis Winston will be making his 38th consecutive start since being drafted first overall in 2015.