Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

If you close your eyes, this 6-5 Rays victory actually looks pretty good

The Rays didn’t play particularly well, but home runs from Brandon Lowe and Tommy Pham and a long day from the bullpen gets them a split.
MONICA HERNDON | Times Tampa Bay Rays leftfielder Tommy Pham (29) hit a homerun during the fifth inning of the Tampa Bay Rays game against the Los Angeles Angels on June 16, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Published Jun. 16
Updated Jun. 17

ST. PETERSBURG — So this was a good victory for the Rays.

I mean, so long as you’re willing to overlook some of the details. Such as pitching. And maybe base­running. And fielding, too.

Oh yes, the Rays were fortunate to get a 6-5 win Sunday against the Angels to salvage a split in the four-game series and remain a half-game behind the Yankees in the American League East.

And maybe that sounds picky. After all, the season will be half-over by the end of next week, and the Rays (43-28) are leading the wild-card race while on pace to win 98 games.

Except they won’t come close to 98 wins if they keep playing like this. Especially not with a three-game series beginning Monday night in New York.

It’s not as if the bottom has fallen out or a glaring shortcoming has been revealed, but this is a team with little margin for error. The hitting isn’t strong enough to outslug a lot of teams, and the rotation isn’t dominant enough to carry Tampa Bay for weeks at a time.

The Rays don’t have to be perfect every game, but they have to be a whole lot sharper than they looked on this 3-4 homestand against a pair of .500 teams.

“We’re just not attacking guys like we’re capable of,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “I don’t think there’s one part of our game that’s playing really well.’’

So what, specifically, are the Rays doing wrong?

• Pitchers failing to throw strikes. Jalen Beeks went to a full count on six of the 15 hitters he faced Sunday and was pulled after throwing 69 pitches in three innings. Blake Snell ran into similar problems Friday, and the Rays were forced to use six pitchers in both of those games.

• A team built around defense had errors in all four games of the Angels series. That doesn’t include plays such as the one Sunday, when pitcher Adam Kolarek failed to show urgency on a high hopper that Brian Goodwin turned into an infield single.

• The Rays came into the game having had more runners thrown out on the bases than any team in the majors. Right on cue, Austin Meadows seemed to get a slow start off third while tagging up and was thrown out at the plate in the third inning.

“Everybody in here knows we’re not playing to the standard we want to,’’ said catcher Mike Zunino. “Sometimes that adds a little bit more pressure and guys try a little bit harder, and that can prolong it. But we have a good group and once guys start feeling good, we’ll start playing our game again.’’

Once again, it’s important to keep this in perspective.

Even while not playing particularly well, and falling behind in the first two innings of all four games in the series, the Rays still got a split against the Angels.

Brandon Lowe hit his team-leading 15th home run, in the first inning Sunday to get the Rays out of a hole before an announced crowd of 20,508. Tommy Pham put them in the lead with a 419-foot homer in the fifth.

Colin Poche bailed out the bullpen with two efficient innings of work — while earning his first major-league victory — and the Rays added a pair of runs for some breathing room in the eighth.

As it turned out, they needed it all.

Diego Castillo got his seventh save in as many chances but not before giving up a two-run homer to Mike Trout and allowing the potential tying run to get in scoring position.

Castillo eventually struck out Kole Calhoun looking on a 3-2 slider to finish it.

“Any win is a win. An ugly win or a pretty win,’’ said Pham. “That’s all that matters. I think we need to clean some things up, but at the end of the day a win is still a win.’’

Contact John Romano at jromano@tampabay.com. Follow @romano_tbtimes.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Tommy Pham (29) takes a moment in the dugout after the Rays 6-2 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the American League Division Series Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 in Houston. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    When deal is announced Friday, Rays will add power and young talent, and save on Pham’s projected $8.6 million salary.
  2. It would help if regular season crowds were as large and enthusiastic as the American League Division Series against Houston last month. As it is, the Rays have been at the bottom of the American League in attendance for much of the past decade despite one of the highest win totals in baseball. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    John Romano | Mayor Rick Kriseman’s decision to dismiss the shared city plan with Montreal means the Rays probably won’t get a stadium deal until their lease runs out in St. Pete in 2028.
  3. Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg is excited to have a home playoff game for the first time since 2013. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    In a statement, principal owner Stuart Sternberg said they still believe the sister city plan is worth considering.
  4. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said he will not allow the Tampa Bay Rays to split its season in Montreal. The city and team are once again at an impasse until 2027, when the Trop contract ends and the Rays could move wherever the team wishes. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    St. Petersburg’s mayor said he won’t give the Rays permission to explore playing in both Tampa Bay and Montreal. The team would become a free agent franchise after 2027.
  5. Joe Garvey (right) with Steve Garvey 1970's.  Photo Provided By Garvey Family Tampa Tribune
    John Romano | Steve Garvey does not have the cumulative stats of a Hall of Famer, but he was an MVP and 10-time All-Star and one of the most recognizable players of the 1970s and ’80s.
  6. Guillermo Heredia, center and the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate on the field after defeating the Toronto Blue Jays to clinch a wildcard playoff birth. Friday, Sept. 27, 2019 in Toronto, Canada DIRK SHADD   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Among others of potential interest who were made free agents elsewhere: Ex-Rays Steven Souza and C.J. Cron.
  7. Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Chaz Roe (52) delivers a pitch in the sixth inning against the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DOUGLAS CLIFFORD  |  Times
    Monday at 8 p.m. is when teams have to tender contracts to rostered players or they become free agents.
  8. If the Rays hadn't already committed to Mike Zunino (above), he would likely be just the kind of catcher they would be looking to as a replacement for Travis d'Arnaud. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rays Tales: A look at two of their biggest decisions thus far, plus who are all these ex-Rays managing, and rumblings.
  9. The Pirates posted the news of Derek Shelton's hiring on Twitter. Twitter
    Current Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro was a finalist for the last remaining opening in the majors, for now anyway.
  10. The Rays acquired former Cincinnati Reds first baseman Brian O'Grady (34) on Wednesday. AARON DOSTER  |  AP
    With a roster spot opened, they add a first baseman/outfielder who put up big numbers at Triple-A last season.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement