HOUSTON — Technically, Rays rookie shortstop Wander Franco made it to first base three times Thursday. But his streak of reaching base ended at a record-tying 43 games.
That’s because twice — in the fourth and ninth innings — he got on base on fielder’s choice plays. Only reaching by getting a hit, drawing a walk or being hit by a pitch counts for streak purposes.
The other time, Franco was called safe at first for what would have been an infield single before the call was quickly reversed on a replay challenge. The 20-year-old was 0-for-4 for the night.
Still, the streak, which started July 25 (and included a 13-day injured-list stint), matched Hall of Famer Frank Robinson’s run for the 1956 Reds as the longest for players 20 and under. Along the way, Franco passed Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey Jr., Al Kaline, Met Ott and Arky Vaughn.
“That’s a good word, remarkable,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Anytime you’re sitting at the top and you’re next to Frank Robinson and then the guys that he passed, congrats again to Wander.
“It was fun to sit back and watch him. I’m guessing he’s going to have plenty of streaks in his career, but this one was pretty spectacular.”
Franco reached on hits in 34 of the games, by just a walk eight times and only once by a hit by pitch. Five times during the streak he reached in his last plate appearance. He had 55 hits in the 43 games and only swung and missed at pitches 48 times.
He now has the longest single-season streak in Rays history for players of any age, as Tommy Pham’s record of 48 was over two seasons.
Wisler back, hopes finger allows him to stay
Reliever Matt Wisler rejoined the Rays Thursday, allowing one hit in an 11-pitch eighth inning, after being out all but one game since Aug. 15 with right middle finger inflammation.
That he said he felt good after the outing was more important, as the Rays are hoping Wisler can manage the finger enough to be part of their postseason roster and don’t have much time to evaluate and decide, hoping to pitch him again by Sunday’s regular-season finale.
“Very encouraged,” Cash said. “Wasn’t totally sure what it was going to look like, how he was going to feel. When he came off the mound we asked him, everybody asked him. He said felt really good, no issues. So that’s just a huge sign for us.”
Wisler said he is still not sure of the cause of the inflammation that prevented him from squeezing his hand but noted it is more sore when he throws his slider, which is a bit of an issue since he does more than 90 percent of the time. (including 10 of his 11 pitches Thursday.) He said he will limit throwing sliders to games and trust that with treatment he will be able to bounce back and pitch regularly in the postseason. Lefty Ryan Sherriff was sent down to make room for Wisler.
• Infielder Yandy Diaz, who left Tuesday’s game with left rib cage soreness, pinch-hit in the ninth and is expected back in the lineup Friday.
• Reliever Ryan Thompson, out since late June, underwent thoracic outlet syndrome decompression surgery, with the expectation he will be ready at the start of spring training.
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• The Rays put tickets to Games 1, 2, and 5 of the division series on sale Thursday; seats remain available for all three games.
• The Rays plan to start Shane McClanahan, Shane Baz and Michael Wacha in the three games against the Yankees.
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