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It’s the Travis d’Arnaud and Jalen Beeks show as Rays beat Tigers 6-1

Rays take a series in Detroit as they head next to Boston for a busy weekend.
Rays catcher Travis d'Arnaud gets a high-five from hitting coach Chad Mottola after his fourth-inning homer on Thursday in Detroit. [CARLOS OSORIO | Associated Press]
Rays catcher Travis d'Arnaud gets a high-five from hitting coach Chad Mottola after his fourth-inning homer on Thursday in Detroit. [CARLOS OSORIO | Associated Press]
Published Jun. 6
Updated Jun. 6

DETROIT — Sometimes you win when your best, highest paid and/or most prominent players do their expected part. That happened Wednesday, when starter Charlie Morton starred as the Rays snapped a four-game losing streak.

And sometimes you prevail when a few of your fringe guys step up.

Like Thursday.

Related: MORE RAYS: Tampa Bay is in for a wild 45 hours this weekend in Boston

Backup-for-now catcher Travis d’Arnaud hit two homers. Opener-follower Jalen Beeks pitched four-plus shutout innings. Middle reliever Chaz Roe got arguably the biggest out.

And the Rays beat the Tigers 6-1.

That gave them another series win, a 37-23 record to stay just behind the AL East leading Yankees and some momentum as they head to Boston for a busy weekend.

“We feel a heck of a lot better after having two wins for sure,’’ manager Kevin Cash said.

D’Arnaud is among the fringiest of the Rays, acquired in a mid-May panic buy when top catchers Mike Zunino and Michael Perez were hurt days apart, and with no guarantees on a long-term stay with Zunino back and Perez rehabbing.

But he’s doing his best to make the best of it.

Landing with the Rays after an unexpectedly abrupt release by the Mets and brief stint with the Dodgers, he has followed a 1-for-22 start with a 9-for-24 run. The two homers were his first since the April 2018 elbow injury that led to Tommy John surgery, which started his odyssey. That’s all in addition to the strong work he has done behind the plate. Since showing up after a red-eye flight from LA, he’s been learning and smoothly handling the dynamic Rays staff and putting on a clinic blocking balls.

“He’s fit in really well,’’ Cash said. “He’s had a lot on his plate going to (the Dodgers and Rays). … He’s got his family out on the west coast. A lot of factors we probably simplify sometimes and say, Oh, he’s just getting to a new team. There’s a lot of things that go into that.

“Travis is pretty calm. He handles everything. It seems like he takes it with a grain of salt. He’s really making the most of an opportunity for us.’’

D’Arnaud, 30, said the Rays have made it easy for him.

“Since I showed up here, they made me feel really comfortable,’’ he said. “Everyone here is awesome. Not only the players, but the coaches, the staff, up and down this organization everyone has been awesome. And it’s been a real easy transition for me.”

Cash agreed that d’Arnaud is playing like he wants to stick around.

He could have that chance. Perez has been slow to recover fully from an oblique strain, and could be optioned back to Triple-A when healthy. Plus, with Triple-A starter Nick Ciuffo out eight-10 weeks following thumb surgery, they’d have more depth with Perez at Durham and keeping d’Arnaud, who they’d have to expose to waivers.

“That’s out of my control, man,’’ d’Arnaud said. “I’m enjoying every moment that I’m here and everyone wants to play in the postseason here and that’s something that I love doing and I’m just out here having fun.”

Beeks is having fun as well, though he’s so quiet it’s hard to tell. His Thursday win improved his record this season to 5-0, 2.76 and giving him a team-record streak of 10 straight winning decisions since being acquired last July.

Though he arguably has the lowest profile of the pitchers cast in the bulk inning role, given that Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough have both had chances to starts, Beeks has been the most consistent.

Related: MORE RAYS: Why they drafted a pitcher who threw only two innings this season

“I think there should be appreciation for all of them,’’ Cash said. “We ask a lot of them. We ask them to bounce back. Sometimes they throw 80 pitches, sometimes they throw 50. …

“Jalen is putting together a really, really good season. You look at what Yarbs did last year in this role (16-6, 3.91) it kind of coincides with what Jalen is doing right now.’’

Beeks is humble by nature, deflecting credit and downplaying success in a difficult role. He pretty much laughed off news of the record, which surpassed Cy Young winner Blake Snell.

“You just have to go up and throw up as many zeroes as you can and they make the decision,’’ Beeks said. “It’s comforting to go out and pitch and not have like anything specific that you have to do. You just have to go out and get zeroes and that’s the goal every day.”

The Rays led 3-1 in the seventh when Roe replaced Beeks with one on, and a two-out walk put the game in the balance. But he landed one of his sliders, albeit unusually high, to get Grayson Greiner, and the Rays then separated the game as Willy Adames homered and d’Arnaud hit his second in the eighth.

“It felt good,’’ d’Arnaud said. “It felt good to most importantly win the series and have some momentum going into Boston.”

No matter where it comes from.

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.




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