1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

Rays come back for fifth straight win, beat Padres 7-5

After rookie Brendan McKay put them in a first-inning hole, Ji-Man Choi and Willy Adames led them back.
Tampa Bay Rays' Ji-Man Choi watches his two-run home run during the seventh inning of the team's baseball game against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, in San Diego. [GREGORY BULL | Associated Press]
Published Aug. 14
Updated Aug. 14

SAN DIEGO — Brendan McKay felt lost and somewhat helpless on the mound in the first inning Tuesday, walking three of the first six Padres batters to match the total from his first six starts. Putting his Rays team in a hole by allowing four runs only made it worse.

"It was frustrating out there,'' the rookie lefty said. "Not being able to command the zone and be your normal self out there.''

But among his mates, there was little worry.

Coming back has been kind of their thing lately.

And so has coming out on top.

They did both on Tuesday, rallying to beat the Padres 7-5.

The win was their fifth straight, all on the roadtrip that concludes with a Wednesday matinee, and the 14th in their last 17 games. They improved to 71-50, extending their lead over the A’s in the second wild-card race to three games and moving within 1 1/2 of the Indians for the top spot. Further, they won a team-record ninth straight road game in improving to an MLB-best 40-22 away from home.

And all without anyone seeing them sweat.

"We don’t give up when we’re down,'' said shortstop Willy Adames. “It doesn’t matter how many runs. We’re always playing aggressive, trying to take advantage of any little opportunity we have. And we did it today. The offense came through to get the lead and we finished the game on top.''

Adames helped them get there, rapping three hits. As did Ji-Man Choi, who had what amounted to the biggest hit, a two-run homer that broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh to put them ahead to stay.

Five relievers pitched in after McKay, with Emilio Pagan logging a four-out save, his 13th. Rays pitchers struck out 18 overall, tying the team record for a nine-inning game. (And they actually did so in eight, since McKay didn’t have any Ks in the first.)

Manager Kevin Cash said the sense of confidence they’re playing with even when down early in a game is obvious.

"We’re not out of it. I know the guys don’t feel that way,'' he said. "They stay positive. They pick each other up. I think a lot of people would say watching us, we play nine innings. The way they’ve gone about it here lately, and certainly today coming back, that’s the sign of a really good team.''

About the only bad news of the night was that Avisail Garcia left the game feeling tightness in his right oblique during his fifth-inning at-bat, and was done after playing the field for two more innings. He said he felt “something funny” but was confident they caught it in time and expects to return to action this weekend at home against his former Tigers mates.

McKay said he took some solace in getting the Rays through the fourth without giving up anything else, finishing with six walks and seven strikeouts, throwing 83 pitches to get those 12 outs.

"One of those days where it took a while to get going,'' he said. "You want to command the zone and it feels good leaving your hand and it just doesn’t end up there. I made a lot of quality pitches when it counted, which makes you feel a little bit better.''

Choi was a bit of an unlikely offensive standout, given that he hadn’t started a game since last Wednesday, was 0-for-his-last 14 and was facing San Diego lefty Eric Lauer for starters. What happens? The lefty swinging Choi rips two doubles and the big homer, his first since July 28 and 11th overall.

"Definitely, it felt good to hit a home run,'' Choi said via team translator Ha-ram (Sam) Jeong. "It’s been a while since I felt like it went out of the ballpark as soon as I hit the ball.''

Cash said he appreciated Choi’s effort given that he hadn’t been playing much.

"He was huge,'' Cash said. "What Ji-Man’s done here the last couple days has not been easy. He’s basically an everyday player. Unfortunately with the schedule with the lefties that we faced, he’s kind of sat. Had a couple pinch-hit at-bats. He’s stayed positive. And certainly showed that he likes to play because he got in there and made the most of an opportunity. Really, really impressive what he did just driving the ball all over the ballpark and then hitting the big home run.''

The Rays also got a little help from the Padres in tying the game in the sixth.

Adames was at third after a double and an Eric Sogard ground out, and broke for home when pinch-hitter Kevin Kiermiaer tapped back to the mound. That may not have worked, but Padres reliever Craig Stammen made an extremely errant throw, allowing Adames to score.

The win was pretty much a team effort, as Cash used 12 position players (all but still-sore Tommy Pham) and six pitchers. Among the notables, Austin Meadows hit his 20th homer, Sogard extended his on-base streak to 25 games and his hit streak to 10, Nick Anderson ran his streak of consecutive batters retired to 18 (14 by strikeout) and Jose Alvarado pitched (somewhat erratically) in his first game back off the injured list.

"We’re just having fun right now,'' Adames said. "We just go every day trying to have fun. We’re trying to push for that playoff spot. And I think everybody is motivated to go to the playoffs.''

No matter how far they have to come back to get there.

Contact Marc Topkin at Follow @TBTimes_Rays.


  1. Nicholas, a rescued bottlenose dolphin at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, made his World Series pick. Photo provided by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
    The Astros opened as the biggest World Series favorite in 12 seasons. But check out what’s going on poolside at Clearwater Marine Aquarium before making your bets.
  2. Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer warms up during batting practice for baseball's World Series Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, in Houston. The Houston Astros face the Washington Nationals in Game 1 on Tuesday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) DAVID J. PHILLIP  |  AP
    Predictions from Marc Topkin, Martin Fennelly and John Romano.
  3. Karsyn Waechter, Riley Vigue and Avery Vigue are extending the athletic legacies of their fathers. Alissa Vigue, Special to the Times
    Doug Waechter and former Rays minor-leaguer are passing their love of the game on to their daughters and their teammates
  4. Between the potential of historic pitching matchups, the emergence of Juan Soto and the heroics of Jose Altuve, this Washington-Houston World Series has more going for it than the Vegas odds might suggest. MATT SLOCUM | AP Photo MATT SLOCUM  |  AP
    The Astros are the heaviest favorites the World Series has seen since 2007. Still, there is reason to believe his Fall Classic has memorable moments ahead.
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston talks to reporters after an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. The Saints won 31-24. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) BUTCH DILL  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay: What’s next for the Bucs, Astros-National World Series preview, the Lightning’s short-circuit start
  6. Davey Martinez gained valuable experience as a coach behind Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay. But when Maddon exited, the Rays bypassed him for a "new voice," Kevin Cash. Tampa Bay Times
    After failing to land a half-dozen manager jobs, including with the Rays, Martinez and Nats ended up a good match.
  7. Jose Altuve prepares to be mobbed by his teammates at home plate as Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman leaves the field after giving up a walkoff two-run homer to the Astros second baseman in the ninth inning to win Game 6 of the AL Championship Series 6-4 on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. The Astros win the series 4-2 and advance to the World Series to play the Washington Nationals. MATT SLOCUM  |  AP
    New York ties the ALCS Game 6 in the top of the ninth with a two-run HR before the diminutive second baseman wins it with a blast off Aroldis Chapman, putting Houston in the World Series.
  8. In 1968, slugger Frank Howard, known as the "Washington Monument," proved to be one of the few bright spots for the Washington Senators. AP
    The Nationals’ improbable postseason run rekindles memories of the woeful Washington Senators
  9. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash, on left, along with Erik Neander, center, senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, and Chaim Bloom, senior vice president of baseball operations, address the media during a press conference at Tropicana Field Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rays Tales: Research now, action to come as Rays get caught up after playoff run. Plus, TV rating info and rumblings.
  10. The Astros’ George Springer signals foul, but the delirious crowd in the rightfield stands at Yankee Stadium knows better as the ball hit by Aaron Hicks caroms off the foul pole for a three-run homer in the first inning of Game 5 of the AL Championship Series on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. FRANK FRANKLIN II  |  AP
    After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the first, New York slugs two home runs in the bottom half of the inning and cuts the series lead to 3-2. Game 6 is tonight in Houston.