Perez gives Rays cushion in AL East

by Gary Shelton on August 27, 2020

in general

Perez won the game with his eighth-inning homer./JEFFREY S. KING

Thursday, 3 a.m.

Wednesday night, it was business as usual for the Tampa Bay Rays, the train that keeps rolling even as it loses parts.

The team won again. Check. It moved to a 2 1/2 game lead in the AL East by beating Baltimore 4-3.

It came from behind again, overcoming sloppy defense en route to a a win that game when Michael Perez hit an eighth-inning homer, his first of the year.

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It got a terrific pitching performance from its no-name pitching staff, including Trevor Richard, Ryan Thompson, Pete Fairbanks, Ryan Sherriff and Diego Castillo.

And, once again, manager Kevin Cash was trying to explain an injury by one of the key players on his team. This time, it was centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who tweaked his back in the fifth inning. He is day to day.

Despite it all -- especially the leaky defense -- the Rays won again. They are now 10 games over .500. You'd probably feel good about where they were if so many players didn't feel bad.

“The pitching was huge," Cash said. "Our defense wasn’t as clean as we would like it. We’re going to continue to harp on that and talk about it, but our pitchers did a tremendous job. We won the game because they were able to limit damage and pick us up after our defensive miscues."

The Os jumped to a 2-0 in the first when the Rays couldn't make a play on a bunt (they were aligned to prevent it), when right fielder Hunter Renfroe overran a single and when the Rays threw high to home plate trying to get a runner.

Still, the team came back. Brandon Lowe tied the game at 2 with his 10th homer of the year, and Perez won it with his.

Perez,said Cash, was "pretty impressive. Mikey's squared some balls up here as of late but hand’t gotten a ton to show for it. That was a big one. That role of the backup catcher can be a tough one at times.  He’s come up with some big hits."

Sherriff pitched his first game in the majors since 2018. He threw a scoreless eighth inning. Castillo came in and became the 10th Rays pitcher to earn a save this season.

The Rays and Orioles wrap up their series tonight at 6:40 p.m. at Tropicana Field when Ryan Yarbrough pitches against John Means.

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