Rays have a blast as they beat Baltimore

by Gary Shelton on April 18, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Choi checks the muscles on Diaz after both homered./ CHUCK MULLER

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Inside, there was a party going on. Someone was having fun.

There was shouting, and there was clapping. Music spilled out of the room, as if often does for young men at play.  There was yelling, and every time a player would walk into the clubhouse, it would start all over again.

Yeah, sometimes, baseball is just fun.

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Kevin Kiermaier rounds third for Rays./CHUCK MULLER

Over the course of a season, it can make a young man feel old. It’s a humbling game, and there are hot days and dog days and days when the hitting disappears and days when the arms are tired.

But there are times like this, when a young team shows more signs of being

Brandon Lowe congratulated for his homer./CHUCK MULLER

good, when everyone hits and everyone pitches and the game feels like a carnival.

These are the good days for the Rays, who ran their record to 14-4 with an impressive 8-1 victory over Baltimore. It was the team’s eighth win in nine games, and everyone hit, and everyone who pitched did well. Statcast measured and determined that the Rays hit a record 17 balls 100 miles per hour or more.

“We’re having a lot of fun for a good reason,” Rays’ manager Kevin Cash said. “When you get a young group of guys, for the most part, to experience this right out of the game,  it’s beneficial to the team and to their own careers. To get that taste of having fun and to enjoy coming to the park.”

Rays’ Chirinos was strong for five innings./CHUCK MULLER

Around the clubhouse, players grinned. Willy Adames took someone’s tape recorder and held it into the face of Yandy Diaz. Ryne Stanek acted as if he was going to tussle with a front office employee.

“It’s the most fun I’ve had playing this game,” said catcher Mike Zunino, who had three hits. “I know it’s early, but that’s the energy that we have. We have a youthful group here. We have some guys, who I don’t think they know their limits yet, and I think guys are getting there and it’s a lot of fun.”

Kevin Kiermaier, who has a 10-game hitting streak, said it’s because the players on this team really like each other.

“It is fun,” Kiermaier said. “This game can be very humbling. We come to the field every day and we expect to win. We’re playing great right now. We have to keep the same mindset. This is special so far. I hope we can continue to write this story and have the right ending.”

Ryan Stanek opened for the Rays./CHUCK MULLER

Said Brandon Lowe, who had a two-run homer: “Everybody on the team is having a lot of fun. It’s a great clubhouse to be in. You take all that and that great energy to the field and it really carries over.”

The Rays took a 6-0 lead after three innings and cruised. They had 13 hits as a team.

One of the few Rays who didn’t get a hit was Tommy Pham, who had his 48 game on-base streak stopped. “One thing to talk about is Tommy Pham,” Cash said. “You have to see a direct correlation from the time that we acquired him last year and to where we are now and how things have turned in the right direction for this organization. It’s not all him, but he’s a huge part of it. So what he did and his accomplishments are pretty impressive.

Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Diaz had back-to-back home runs in the third inning. It’s the third time this season the team has had back-to-back home runs. Last season, they did it just once.Choi, Diaz, Brandon Lowe and Kiermaier all had two hits.

The Rays clinched their sixth series win in the game. They wrap of their series against Baltimore tonight. Hunter Wood throws for Tampa Bay against Andrew Cashner.

Austin Meadows with former Rays and current Orioles C Jesus Sucre. / CHUCK MULLER

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