The Tampa Bay Rays are the hottest team in the American League. Check that. They are the hottest team in Major League baseball.
The Rays have won ten in a row after their 6-4 win against the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon. The team will be going for their 11th straight win in a row tomorrow afternoon against the Blue Jays.
This is only the second time in franchise history that the Rays have put together a ten-game winning streak. The all-time franchise record for consecutive wins is 12 set back in 2004.
The Rays have swept the New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles and have taken three straight against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rays are 29-19 and are tied with Boston for first place in the AL East.
How have the Rays done it? The Rays have done it by getting a solid effort in all three phases of the game offense, defense, and pitching.
The Rays are averaging eight runs a game during their win streak and have a 2.89 ERA. When the pitching has needed a pick me up, the offense has come through with big hits. When the offense has struggled, the pitching has come through shutting down opposing offenses.
Kevin Cash talked about everything clicking at the same time. “All that has come together at the right time. And it’s allowed us to play some really, really good baseball.”
The Rays are also getting key contributions from everyone up and down the lineup. Mike Zunino leads the Rays with 11 home runs. Francisco Mejia hit a grand slam on Friday night to give the Rays the win in 12 innings.
Randy Arozarena has started to get hot, hitting three home runs this week. Joey Wendle and Brandon Lowe have also had some big hits.
Zunino talked about the direction the club is headed. “I think all aspects of our game are trending in the right direction,” Obviously, our at-bats have gotten better. I think the way we’ve thrown the ball, for the most part, has kept us in games, and that’s the biggest thing. And we’re doing a great job defensively. The pitching and the defense are what we pride ourselves on.”
Rookie shortstop Taylor Walls playing in his first big-league game Saturday night made some fine defensive plays and contributed offensively with a double late in the game, driving in a run to give the Rays a 3-1 lead.
This is the Rays way. This is how the Rays will win a ton of games and get back to the playoffs. According to Kevin Cash, it’s the little things that will help you win many of those close games.
“The little things, in tight games like that, matters. It becomes magnified when it’s really close.”
Taylor Walls was a great example of doing the little things well in his debut. He doubled in the ninth, his second of the game, and then used his legs to take third on a wild pitch and then slid home on a throwing error from Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen.
This gave the Rays the insurance run they needed in the 3-1 win. Walls also put his name in the MLB record books as he doubled from both sides of the plate. Walls is just the third player in the modern era to accomplish that feat in his MLB debut.
Kevin Cash talked about the debut of Taylor Walls and what it meant to the Rays. “Big night for Taylor. He played great defense, made some nice plays, came up with big hits. But the baserunning might’ve been the highlight. Two doubles are awesome, but he put pressure on the defense and added that third run, which was big for us.”
This is a team that no one will talk about or show any love to on the national level. And that’s ok. They are not sexy and flashy, but all they do is win games. The Rays are a team built to win games without superstar salaries and make sure they can play meaningful baseball games in October.
After the Toronto series, the Rays will host Kansas City and the Phillies before taking a New York trip to play the Yankees.