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Rays journal: Team playing like it has ‘nothing to lose’

Mallex Smith, left, congratulates Willy Adames, right, after Adames' solo homer in the fourth against the A's on  Sept. 16, 2018. (JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times)
Mallex Smith, left, congratulates Willy Adames, right, after Adames' solo homer in the fourth against the A's on Sept. 16, 2018. (JAMES BORCHUCK | Times)
Published Sep. 17, 2018|Updated Sep. 17, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — The unnecessarily dramatic ending aside, the Rays felt pretty good about what transpired Sunday in securing a 5-4 victory and a series win over the previously red-hot A's.

"It showed me that we got a really good team here,'' rookie SS Willy Adames said.

Like many of their other 82 wins, Sunday's was a team effort.
That included extraordinary pitching from the first of their eight-man crew, Diego Castillo, Andrew Kittredge (who got a second straight win), Hunter Wood, Jaime Schultz and Adam Kolarek combining for eight shutout innings and only three hits, none until one out in the fifth.

"Oakland came in here as hot as any team in baseball, and we pitched like we needed to and gave ourselves a chance to be in every ball game,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "A lot of guys stepped up, and especially (Sunday) we called on some guys that hadn't had a ton of work here recently and hadn't pitched in tight situations recently, but they really did a nice job. It was fun to watch them how they really pieced it together."

The offense came in bursts. C.J. Cron hit a 430-foot blast for a two-run homer in the first, his 27th of the season, and 14th to put them ahead. Adames showed some of his big-boy power — "I've been hanging out with Carlos Gomez and C.J. Cron'' — with a 420-foot solo shot in the fourth. And apple-sauce fueled Brandon Lowe delivered a two-run triple in the seventh.

That they had to survive Jake Faria walking the bases loaded in the ninth and Sergio Romo giving up a grand slam made it harrowing, but satisfying, too. "It just shows the character that we have in this clubhouse,'' Kittredge said. "I think we are kind of playing like we got nothing to lose and everyone is playing loose. … That loss in the first game of the series was a tough one, but obviously we bounced back very well.''

Faria: ‘Little bit of rust’

Not pitching for 10 days seemed bad enough for RHP Faria, then pitching poorly when he did get the chance Sunday was worse. Given the chance to finish the game with what looked to be a safe 5-0 lead, Faria quickly made a mess, walking the first batter, then the second, then the third before getting pulled. LHP Jose Alvarado came in with the bases loaded and got one out, but RHP Sergio Romo gave up a grand slam to majors home-run leader Khris Davis, cutting the lead to 5-4, before getting the final two outs.

"Little bit of rust, I don't know,'' Faria said. "You've got to be ready whenever they call down, but I don't know. I felt good in the bullpen, my warmups on the field were good and then a hitter stepped in and it's a whole 'nother thing.''

Faria took the blame, saying his mistake was trusting how good he felt warming up and not focusing on the hitters. "It's frustrating to not throw, and when you do throw, you don't do well,'' he said.

Staats report

Longtime TV play-by-play man Dewayne Staats has not been feeling well, missing games Friday and Sunday, and at least the start of the Texas-Toronto road trip. "Just a respiratory issue needing some time to treat,'' Staats said via text, adding he definitely expects to return this season. Radio pregame and postgame host Neil Solondz filled in Sunday, and Rich Hollenberg will be on the trip.

Number of the day

39,900 Total attendance for
the three-game series.

Minor matters

Class A Bowling Green was playing Sunday night for the Midwest League championship, manager Craig Albernaz's Hot Rods leading Peoria (Cardinals) 2-1 in the best-of-five series. RHP Paul Campbell was the scheduled starter. After winning a second straight International League crown, Durham will try to repeat as winners of the Triple-A national championship game, taking on Memphis (Cardinals) on Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio. Cash texted congratulations to Durham skipper Jared Sandberg. Cash noted the reaction of his players, 17 of whom spent time with the Bulls this season. "I thought it was really cool when they showed it on the (Trop video board), the dugout reaction,'' Cash said. "The guys were pumped. … That's a pretty remarkable feat that Jared and his staff and obviously his players have done two years in a row, and hopefully they can pull it off on Tuesday.''

Miscellany

• The Rays are 26-29 in one-run games, one shy of the team record of 56 in a season.

• C Michael Perez is still "making progress" in returning from a hamstring strain, Cash said, hoping to play again this season.

• OF Tommy Pham got the day off after his 17-game hitting streak ended Saturday.

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