ARLINGTON, Texas – The Rays still have a long way to go, and they are going to need a lot of help to get there.
But they continue to do their part to try to make it a race for the final American League playoff spot, beating the Rangers 9-3 Wednesday for their fifth straight win, 14th in 17 September games, and 23rd in their past 28 overall, improving to 85-66.
More importantly, they crept within five games of the second wild-card-holding A's, who hosted the Angels late Wednesday, having gained 3½ games in the previous four days.
Wednesday's series-sweeping win was pretty much a product of the offense, led by Tommy Pham's two-homer day. Joey Wendle was 3-for-4, and the Rays got two hits apiece from Matt Duffy, Jesus Sucre, Jake Bauers and C.J. Cron, who legged out a rare triple. Overall, six players drove in runs, and all starters but Carlos Gomez had a hit as the Rays posted 16.
After a solid opening 1⅔ innings from Diego Castillo, Ryan Yarbrough gave the Rays an up-and-down four innings, though it was enough for his 15th win, breaking the team rookie record set in the 1998 inaugural season by Rolando Arrojo.
With major-league wins leader Blake Snell leading the charge, the Rays are playing and talking confidently about pulling off what would be a remarkable September rally.
"I think everybody in this clubhouse is just getting ready for a wild-card game,'' pitcher Tyler Glasnow said.
Manager Kevin Cash has tried to take a more pragmatic view.
"We need help, there's no doubt about that,'' he said. "I like the way they guys have continued to go about their business day to day. That's very cliche, but sometimes you have to go with that and control what you can control.''
The Rays left after the game for Toronto where they open a four-game series Thursday.