Morton guides the Rays back into the Wild Card lead

by Gary Shelton on September 2, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Morton won his 14th game for the Rays./TIM WIRT

Monday, 4 a.m.

Perhaps the Tampa Bay Rays belong in the American League playoffs, after all.

After spending most of the last month making you wonder, the Rays swept one of their most important series of the season Sunday, beating the Cleveland Indians. 8-2. It was the Rays' third straight win over Cleveland (fourth straight win overall), and their sixth win in seven games on the season.

Charlie Morton, who is closing in on career highs, won the game by pitching five and a third innings and allowing just one earned run. Morton is now within one win of career high of 15. He already has a career low in ERA and a career high in strikeouts. He has given up two runs or fewer in 20 of his starts this season.

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Meadows had three hits for Tampa Bay./JEFFREY S. KING

“That’s a big deal against a really good team," Morton said. "They’re tough. To do that— to finish out August, first day of September—do that. It’s a really big deal.”

The Rays are now in first place in the AL Wild Card race by a half game.

“I think it’s more about what we’re doing," Morton said. "It’s September and Wild Card baseball can become too much about what other teams are doing. You’re relying sometimes on other teams to come up short. Naturally, we’re going to pay attention a little bit to what Oakland’s doing and what Cleveland’s doing. But at the same time, we have to keep focus on what we’re doing and we can control. September Wild Card baseball can become too much about what other teams are doing.”

Cash's team has won four straight games./JEFFREY S. KING

Rays' manager Kevin Cash enjoyed the sweep.

"We put ourselves in position, then come out and have a really good game," Cash said. "Charlie had really good stuff. The Indians had some really good at-bats. (Mike) Freeman sitting there in the middle kind of drove the pitch count up by himself. Charlie gave us what we needed. Obviously the offense stayed running well. They’re a really good team. For us to get three wins, do it home, good sign.”

The Rays got a two-run homer from call-up Nate Lowe to stake them to an early lead.

“It’s super cool," Lowe said. "Being able to put ourselves in a better spot in a playoff race is awesome. We just beat a really good Cleveland club. Says a lot to what these guys have done all year and hopefully what we’re going to do the rest of the year.”

Cash liked having the September call-ups on his bench.

“Big impact right away," Cash said. "We’re going to continue to use them all. That’s what’s going to make us good and give us our best chances to continue winning

d'Arnaud had had a month to remember./TIM WIRT

games — we use the whole roster. We always talk about how teams are built. Some are built with nine guys and a couple pitchers. We’re built with close to 40 guys and we’ll use them all.”

Austin Meadows had three hits for the Rays. Eric Sogard, Tommy Pham, Lowe and Travis d'Arnaud all had two.

“It’s huge," d'Arnaud said of moving ahead in the wild-card race. "Huge sweep for us, especially against a playoff team like I said yesterday also. Big sweep. Tomorrow we’ve got a huge game too. Morning game, so hopefully all of us sleep fast and are ready to go.”

The Rays have a quick turnaround for today's 1:10 p.m. game against Baltimore at Tropicana Field. Ryan Yarbrough (11-3) will start for the Rays against the Orioles' Asher Wojciechowski (2-7).

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