ST. PETERSBURG — Given how bad the Rays looked at times, it seems too soon to suggest they have totally overcome their offensive issues. But the recent results — and the numbers — have been encouraging.
In beating the Mets 12-5 Saturday afternoon for a third straight win, they posted their most runs and hits (15) in nearly a month. They had five- and six-run innings that rank as their second and third biggest of the season. They had eight — yes, eight! — hits with runners in scoring position, more than their total from their entire previous 10-game homestand, when they were 7-for-71. And they did it all without a home run.
For the three games, they scored 24 runs, nearly three times the total from their previous five games combined. And, to show it isn’t a Tropicana Field thing, one shy of the total from that last 10-game stand.
“We were quiet for a little while,” manager Kevin Cash said. “There wasn’t one guy we could sit there and say, ‘Oh, he’s hot.’ But it seems like they’re all heading in the right direction right now. When you score nine runs (Thursday), and then three (Friday) and (12 Saturday), that takes a full lineup to contribute.
“So we definitely feel better than we did, say, a week ago (with) where we’re at offensively.”
Saturday’s outing, before a spirited crowd of 7,536 — second largest of the season — certainly was a team effort, and that included 6 1/3 mostly solid innings from rookie starter Shane McClanahan, who got his first big-league win as the Rays moved to a season high-tying three games over .500 at 22-19.
Joey Wendle, batting cleanup for the second time this year and 14th overall, snapped an 0-for-10 skid with a career high-tying four hits, including three doubles.
Yandy Diaz had a third straight game with an extra-base hit after 18 without as part of a three-hit day. Randy Arozarena also had three hits. Austin Meadows had two, including a pinch-hit double in the fourth that put the Rays ahead to stay. Manuel Margot, Willy Adames and Brett Phillips (who had Friday’s walkoff game-winner) each had one big hit.
“Everyone on the team felt good, and it was good to see,” said Diaz, via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “Everyone was kind of contributing in that game. It was really good to get the victory.”
Down 4-1 in the fourth, as McClanahan allowed homers to Jose Peraza and Pete Alonso, the Tampa native whose first series at the Trop had started with five strikeouts, the Rays rallied.
They got five in the fourth — their biggest output since seven in the eighth on May 6 at Anaheim — including RBI doubles by Adames and Meadows. Then they topped that with six in the eighth, Diaz and Wendle placing balls well for two-run doubles, and Phillips lacing one for another.
Just like there is no one reason a team slumps, there is no simple explanation for why the Rays started hitting again — though after being shut out by the Yankees duo of Gerrit Cole and Aroldis Chapman on Wednesday, any other pitchers would seem more hittable.
“Honestly, I think probably the best way to describe it is just law of averages,” Wendle said. “...Long season, these types of things happen.
“If you look at a couple days ago and then (Saturday), hit a couple balls not so hard that went through, drove in some runs. If you go back a couple weeks, we probably hit a couple balls hard that went right to somebody. That’s not to make excuses for prior or to say we didn’t deserve these runs tonight, but baseball is a funny game in that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than be good. … So a good team win. Encouraging for sure.”
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