When is it safe to talk about a Rays’ post-season?

by Gary Shelton on September 5, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Kiermaier scored the Rays' first run of the game../JEFFREY S. KING

Kiermaier scored the Rays' first run of the game./JEFFREY S. KING

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

These days, they carry themselves as if they're winning was ordained.

They hit like winners. They field like winners. They run the bases like winners. And man, oh man, do they pitch like winners.

The Tampa Bay Rays, a team so hot they will burn your fingers if you dare to touch them, won again Tuesday night. Of course they did. This winning is old hat by now, after all. The Rays have won four straight games and 13 of their last 15. This time, they won 4-0 for their 12th shutout of the season.

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Beeks was sharp in a limited role./JEFFREY S. KING

Beeks was sharp in a limited role./JEFFREY S. KING

Remember August 8. That wasn't so long ago, was it? But the Rays were 57-57 then. Now they're 75-63, a dozen games over the .500 level they spent most of their season trying to rise above.

The Rays have outscored opponents 76-37 over those 15 games.

Deja vu? In 2011, the Rays were 74-62 and nine games behind the Red Sox in

Pham had a triple fo rthe Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Pham had a triple for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

the wild-card standings. That season, the Rays passed the Red Sox on the final day.

This time, the Rays threw seven pitchers at Toronto, and they combined on a three-hit shutout. Ryan Stanek, Jalen Beeks and Adam Kolarek each gave up one hit to the Blue Jays.

Beeks lasted the longest for the Rays, but even he went only 2 2/3 innings.

"I thought he had done his job," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He was really efficient. Its always a challenging decision when a pitcher provides that kind of work. I thought he had done it. Our bullpen was at a spot we could kind of matchup from there.  The strike-throwing was there. It was awesome to see."

Choi doubled in a run for Tampa Bay/JEFFREY S. KING

Choi doubled in a run for Tampa Bay/JEFFREY S. KING

The Rays led 1-0 after two, then added three runs in the seventh. Ji-Man Choi doubled in Branden Lowe, then scored on Tommy Pham's triple. Pham scored on Matt Duffy's single up the middle.

Sergio Romo picked up his 19th save of the season.

Cash said he is enjoying watching his team win.

"How can you not?" he said. "We’re getting outstanding pitching performances almost every night. The offense started to click once we got through that Kansas City series."

It has gotten to the point where the Rays talking about making the post-season no longer seems like a joke.

Duffy knocked in a run for Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Duffy knocked in a run for Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

"Our pitching," Matt Duffy said, shaking his head. "They've been dominant since mid-May. We still have three games against the A's. We have to take care of what we can handle and hope for some help."

The Rays are 8-2 against Toronto this season. They hope to add another victory tonight when Tyler Glasnow pitches against Aaron Sanchez. The game begins at 7:07 p.m. at the Rogers Centre.

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