Against Nationals, Rays look like a contender

by Gary Shelton on September 16, 2020

in general

Kiermaier had a key two-run single./JEFFREY S. KING

Wednesday, 3 a.m.

The finish line has come into view so quickly. But as the Tampa Bay Rays approach it, their plan to deal with it seems simple.

"We want to play our best baseball moving forward," said center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who had a two-run single to help lift the Rays to a 6-1 victory over Washington Tuesday night.

"I want to win the division. It's s something I haven’t been a part of. We’re still in first place with 12 to go. That’s my goal. I don’t know what everyone else is thinking, but want to win the division. I want us to move into the playoffs with us playing our best baseball."

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on

Now that that baseball's shortest season is down to a dozen regular season games to go, the Rays have been trying to work out some problems. They had been 4-6 in their previous 10 games, although they still lead the American League East by four games.

Kiermaier had two hits and a stolen base in the victory, including a two-out single off left-handed reliever Ben Braymer.

“It felt really good," KIermaier said. "We’ll take insurance runs anytime we can get them. For me, personally, facing a lefty, I wanted to get the job done. All I tried to do was hit it where they aren’t.”

Tuesday night's win was a solid step. After losing two straight on the road to the Nationals, the Rays had a solid win. Pitcher Ryan Yarbrough -- pitching in the bulk role instead of starting the game -- was solid as he allowed just one run over 5 2/3 innings.

 "I think our offense really got going after what Yarbs did in the fourth inning," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. "That was a big, big moment in the ballgame. We’re up 2-0 and they have runners on first and second with one out and two really good hitters coming up. I really happy for Yarbs and how much he  contributed to us winning.

“He was still battling some things early on. It wasn’t  easy for him by any stretch. He battled some command a little. Getting through that situation in the fourth inning was big.”

Manuel Margot also had a two-run single for the Rays in the fifth. Kevin Smith had a run-scoring single in the second.

"We’re not talking anything for granted," Yarbrough said. "I don’t know how many games left we have or how many games until we clinch. We’re focused on the division and finishing strong so when we get there we’ll be ready to go.”

The Rays may be trying to run toward the finish. They stole five bases against Washington.

The Rays play the Nationals again today at 1:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Normally a reliever, Pete Fairbanks will start for the Rays against Austin Voth of Washington.

Previous post:

Next post: