Cron, Smith control the airways against Tigers

by Gary Shelton on July 12, 2018 · 6 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Cron's three-run homer won the game./JEFFREY S. KING

Cron's three-run homer won the game./JEFFREY S. KING

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Cron's home run won the game for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Cron's home run won the game for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Sometimes, you win by the big fly.

Sometimes, you win by catching the dangerous fly.

And sometimes, you need both.

Just ask the Tampa Bay Rays, who completed a sweep of the Detroit Tigers with a 4-2 victory Wednesday afternoon. The Rays won their fifth game in a. a row, and their 14th of the last 15, to improve to a season-best four games over .500.

The Rays are 14-4 since June 22, their best record since 2015.

Cron now has 18 home runs on the season./JEFFREY S. KING

Cron now has 18 home runs on the season./JEFFREY S. KING

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Mallex Smith leaves his feet to make the final out of the eighth./JEFFREY S. KING

Mallex Smith leaves his feet to make the final out of the eighth./JEFFREY S. KING

The big fly was provided by C.J. Cron, who hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning. Cron, hitting .362 over his last nine games, hit a 2-0 pitch over the left-center field fence.

“I got ahead in the count 2-0," Cron said. "I noticed that there was a base open. Didn’t really want to do much there and expand my zone, but I also

Kiermaier rounds third after hitting homer./JEFFREY S. KING

Kiermaier rounds third after hitting homer./JEFFREY S. KING

wanted to be aggressive and drive a pitch I thought I could drive. I think he threw me a little cutter/slider not really where he wanted to throw it. Thankfully I got a good swing on it.

“I think my timing is a lot better. That’s really the key to hitting is to have good timing and when that is on everything clicks a little bit easier. I wish I knew the answer so that we would never slump, but that’s just hitting.”

The dangerous fly? That one was tracked down by Mallex Smith in the eighth, who left his feet in the direction of the left field line to make a diving catches.

Yarbrough won his eighth game of the season./JEFFREY S. KING

Yarbrough won his eighth game of the season./JEFFREY S. KING

One of the men on base when Cron hit his homer was centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is heating up. He had three hits for the day.

“It’s a lot of fun to be a part of," Kiermaier said. "It’s winning baseball, and I just keep saying it every day, every time, you guys ask me questions: this is a fun group to be a part of. We all get along with each other and we all vibe very well. It’s a lot of fun coming to the field each and every day. I was telling guys the other day,’ I hope you realize the potential and what we are capable of doing in this room.’ The past couple of weeks have shown you that we can compete with the best teams in baseball. It’s one of those things where you see a lot

Willy Adames tracks down a line drive./JEFFREY S. KING

Willy Adames tracks down a line drive./JEFFREY S. KING

of people growing in here. It all starts with our pitching staff with what they’ve done. I can’t give them enough love. Offensively, one through nine, you just wonder who’s going to be the guy to step up each day. We don’t depend on one person each and every day, it’s that we all feed off each other and it’s collectively a team effort with this ball club. That’s why I enjoy taking the field with these guys each and every day.”

Playoffs? Is it too soon to mention playoffs?

“No, no, no... not at all," Kiermaier said. "We’re just getting started. We’re feeding off the pitching and what we’ve done with the openers and whatnot. I feel like (Ryne) Stanek starts every other day, but he starts us off, and then whether it’s (Ryan) Yarbrough or (Matt Andriese) or Hunter Wood or

Wood was the Rays' 14th starting pitcher./JEFFREY S. KING

Wood was the Rays' 14th starting pitcher./JEFFREY S. KING

whoever to fill a couple more innings and have the rest of the bullpen finish everyone off. It’s been a joy to watch from centerfield, I have the best seat in the house. We have a lot of guys that are really swinging the bat well and it’s a joy to be a part of. It’s definitely been a lot of fun.”

Cash thought the Rays pulled off a big comeback win.

“Good win," he said. "I think this win speaks volumes about our club. Do be down against a pitcher who is in a groove -- (Jordan) Zimmermann is a veteran pitcher who can really pitch. He navigated himself through some jams. We came up twice with (runners on) second and third and had nothing to show for it -- with less than two outs.

"To be able to kind of stay out there... our pitching was outstanding. Ryan Yarbrough was tremendous for us, and then obviously C.J.’s big day at the plate was nice. Credit to Mallex Smith and his play in the 8th inning. Three outstanding plays that very few players in baseball could make. Ultimately pitching and some timely hitting and we pull out a really nice series in this brief homestand.”

The Rays now play their final series before the all-star break. They go to Minnesota for. a four-game set. In the first game, Blake Snell pitches against Kyle Gibson at 8:10 p.m.

Cash enjoys a winning streak./JEFFREY S. KING

Cash enjoys a winning streak./JEFFREY S. KING



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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller July 12, 2018 at 8:25 pm

My main point is let’s not talk about playoffs when we know what is going down at the trade deadline.

To answer your first question, it depends on the assets. I think the Rays are finding the market for short term rentals isn’t what it used to be. I have said before Ramos, Hechavarria and I guess Eovaldi will make more than the Rays can afford to pay so it’s understandable that they will be traded. But I don’t want them trading guys like Cron, Duffy or Sergio Romo just because they will make salaries in the $2 Mil to $5 Mil range in arbitration next year. That is not acceptable. Any MLB team can afford that type of salary for productive players.

With the Rays the season effectively ends on 7/31 most years. This one will be no different.


Gary Shelton July 12, 2018 at 8:50 pm

I certainly could, especially if the Rays involve other pitchers (Roe, Archer, Snell) in their trades. But they’re a long way out of the wild-card game as it is. If the Rays could keep their guys, and make a charge at the playoffs, it’s one thing. If it not, and if you can bolster the lineup to make the Rays a contender next year, I’d listen.

The Rays have seldom traded everyone who is rumored to go. Thats where the “they ask too much” rumors get started.

The Rays actually have done a better job acquiring prospects lately. Ill be interested to see who goes and what the return is.

Let’s see what they do.


Bill MYERS July 12, 2018 at 8:49 am

It all seems so futile Gary, KK talks about the good vibes and fun of playing with this team. And then we hear of front office plotting to trade the very talent that could bring Tampa Bay a title someday! I understand that it is the culture today and it is all about the money. The Rays may be just a glorified farm team for the rest of the big money teams to feed off of! It is so futile! As fans we deserve a better system.


Gary Shelton July 12, 2018 at 8:58 pm

I understand your frustration. As I often say, it’s tough to be a Rays’ fan. It’s hard to bond with your guys.

The situation is this, however. Ramos is gone. He wants huge money, and the Rays won’t (can’t) pay it.

Eovaldi’s contract is up.

Hechavarria is going to get into big bucks, and he’s in the way of Adames.

So do you let these guys walk, or do you try to get something for them? It’s the way of the world for the Rays. It’s not good for the fans, who pay the price for this.

The attendance is going to grow. The money isn’t to grow. So what does the team do?


Larry Beller July 12, 2018 at 4:40 am

If you are going to mention playoffs then Sternberg and the boys will need to cancel all plans for trading Ramos, Cron, Eovaldi, etc. Without those guys the Rays probably lose 3 of the games they have won in their current winning streak and several more down the road.

Of course you know Gary, as you have told me several times, the Rays don’t operate that way. They trade their top players who will soon be free agents / too expensive to get replacements for the future. Once those good players are traded off the Rays winning ways will end for this year. So knowing that can we please not have any mention of playoffs? It’s just not going to happen because the soon to be ex-Rays will be helping their new teams win games and the Rays will not be able to replace them.

Enjoy the wins of today but understand they will be short-lived.


Gary Shelton July 12, 2018 at 6:47 am

All wins are. Still, a team can’t afford to see Ramos and Eovaldi walk away without assets returning. Right?

Baseball has set up a system where the little fishes in the pond have to sell off to stay ahead of the tiny fishes. It’s not a pleasant to look at long-range. You’ve seen it happen too many times.

It isn’t pleasant. But the mix of what this franchise is (low attendance, bad TV deal, rich division, only a bit of revenue sharing) doesn’t help.

We’ve talked about it a lot. But in their current position, the farm system is the only possible success. Of course, that’s hard on trading deadline, isn’t it?


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