Rays finally hold a lead, bashing Toronto 6-1

by Gary Shelton on May 7, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Kevin Cash finally saw his team hold onto a lead./JEFFREY S. KING

Cash finally sees his team play a complete games./JEFFREY S. KING


Sunday, 2 a.m.

Finally, the Tampa Bay Rays built a lead that its bullpen could not blow.

Finally, the Rays took a narrow lead and fattened it to run away from its opponent.

Finally, the Rays put together the proper formula to win a baseball game, beating the Toronto Blue Jays to reach .500 again at 16-16. For the Rays – and most teams — to succeed, it has to happen like this.

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Morrison is off to a hot start for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Morrison is off to a hot start for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Solid starting pitching (this time by Jake Odorizzi) that lessen the amount of outs needed from the bullpen. Solid hitting to take advantage of scoring opportunities (the Rays led 2-1, then stretched it to 5-1, then won 6-1). Solid relief work (six outs and one hit by Erasmo Ramirez and Jose Alvarado).

Over the last 20 games of the Rays, the team has had the lead in 18 of the games. It has lost 10 of the games.

In all, it was a tidy little victory. Both Logan Morrison and Colby Ramsus drove in three runs. Evan Longoria and Morrison each had two hits. The Blue Jays had only four hits — only three against Odorizzi. Odorizzi, in fact, has given up only eight hits in his last four starts, a string of 25 innings.

Longoria's bat is warming up./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Longoria's bat is warming up./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Again, part of his charm on Saturday was his length. He got 21 of the game's 27 outs, leaving the bullpen to only get six outs the rest of the way. Given the flammability of the pen lately, the less work, the better.

“I think (going seven) means a lot, especially when you have a four- or five-run lead,” said Odorizzi. “It takes a lot of pressure off everyone. Everyone plays pretty loose. I talked a few times with our bullpen being overused lately because we've been going short in starts. It's nice to go out there and say “I want to go deep in games' and then do it to take the pressure off.”

Morrison now has 18 RBI, a welcome sight after last year, when he didn't drive in his first run until game No. 39.

“Yeah, but it's just a start,” Morrison said. “It's not what you've done, it's what you are going to do.”

True. But a good start is better than the other kind.

“That's true,” he said. “I'm just trying to see my pitch and get one I can hit.”

Rasmus got his first hit as a Ray and drove in his first three runs. Counting last season, he was on a zero-for-24 streak before his sixth-inning homer.

Longoria had his second straight multi-hit gamE for the first time since last September. He had entered the series on a one-for-17 streak, but he's five-for-seven in the series.

“It was a nice bounceback win,” said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. “Yesterday (an 8-4 loss after 3-0 lead) was a rough night for a lot of guys in this clubhouse.”

The Rays continue their home stand against the Blue Jays (10-20) today when they send Alex Cobb to the mound to face Joe Biagini.

Seven innings of work took the pressure of the Rays' bullpen./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Seven innings of work took the pressure of the Rays' bullpen./ANDREW J. KRAMER

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