But danged if this isn’t one of the more entertaining teams in the American League. And, after an 8-3 victory and a four-game sweep of the Angels on Thursday night, the Rays’ record says they are one of the better teams in the league, too. Since finding themselves in last place in the AL East on Sunday morning, the Rays have ripped off five consecutive victories and are now in second place, 1.5 games behind the Red Sox.
Just another wild night at the ballpark as Rays come from behind Are they conventional? Not entirely. But are they effective? They certainly were Thursday night.
While the Rays may lack the star quality of Anaheim’s lineup with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, they’re a more disciplined and energetic group. They stole four bases Thursday, giving them eight in the past three games, and Anaheim responded with throwing errors and wild pitches. The Rays’ Randy Arozarena runs toward home to score on a single by Manuel Margot during the eighth inning. [ JAE C. HONG | Associated Press ]
“Putting pressure on the defense definitely helps us out,” rightfielder Manuel Margot said through interpreter Manny Navarro. “The last two nights really show that,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We’re playing really good baseball behind our pitchers defensively, we’re doing everything we can to make wise decisions on the bases. Just kind of buying time, keeping it close and then when that big hit comes with guys on base, we put ourselves in a situation to tie it, to take the lead, and ultimately find a way to win.”
Trailing 3-0 going into the seventh, the Rays finally shook out of their offensive slumber with a Mike Zunino two-out homer to leftfield. That was just a prelude to a wild eighth inning that saw 12 batters come to the plate, a double steal, a wild pitch, two walks, seven hits and seven runs. “I kept my head up and saw it was a wild pitch, made my move and scored,” Margot said.
All of this came after Angels starter Andrew Heaney handcuffed the Rays with 10 strikeouts and no runs through the first six innings. But while the Rays were unable to get a run home against Heaney, they did work enough at-bats to drive his pitch count up. When he reached 110 pitches with two out in the seventh, Angels manager Joe Maddon went to his bullpen. The biggest moment was after Randy Arozarena and Margot had back-to-back RBI hits to the opposite field to tie the score. With Austin Meadows on first and Margot on second, the Rays attempted a double steal. Angels reliever Aaron Slegers threw a wild pitch and Margot came all the way around to score the go-ahead run.
Five pitches later, Zunino hit a 412-foot homer to leftfield. The biggest moment was after Randy Arozarena and Margot had back-to-back RBI hits to the opposite field to tie the score. With Austin Meadows on first and Margot on second, the Rays attempted a double steal. Angels reliever Aaron Slegers threw a wild pitch and Margot came all the way around to score the go-ahead run.
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