From big bats to brooms; Rays complete sweep

by Gary Shelton on May 21, 2021

in general

Joey Wendle homered twice for the Rays./STEVEN MUNCIE

Friday, 3 p.m.

Finally, the Baltimore Orioles have found someone who can slow down the bats of the Tampa Bay Rays. He just didn't get into the game quickly enough.

The Orioles, in desperation (or surrender), turned to infielder Stevie Wilkerson to finish up a 10-1 loss to the Rays Thursday afternoon. Wilkerson gave up a run (which Oriole pitcher didn't?) but managed to get three outs with his 40-mile-an-hour blooper pitch.

There's the secret: The Rays aren't nearly as good when the game turns to slow pitch.

Hey, Wilkerson was about as good as any Baltimore hurler fared in an embarrassing sweep against the Rays, who had a player hit two home runs in each of the three games. Tuesday, it was Mike Zunino, Wednesday it was Randy Arozarena and Thursday, it was Joey Wendle.

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The Rays have now won seven games in a row, most of them in lopsided fashion. In those seven games, the Rays scored nine runs per game, hit 17 homers, 40 extra base hits and averaged .327.

“There have been lot of good things," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "Things are going our way. We're making things happen.  We’re getting really well pitched ballgames. The offense  has really, really come to life. There is a lot to be encouraged about."

The Rays have scuffed it around offensively for most of the season, so it's hard to blame them for enjoying the wave. They've scored at least nine runs in four of their last five games after doing it just three times in their first 40 games.

"It's the overall pressure we’re putting  on the opposition," Cash said. "We’re having some really good at-bats. The walks have been there as much as the big hits. I know what our numbers were with guys in scoring position before this stretch. We were confident it was going to ultimately even out. Now it’s evening out in a big way. It’s happening really fast."

Yeah, baseball can be fun. Consider --

--- Wendle had four hits and two homers, the last one coming off Wilkerson in the ninth. Before the homer, he had a swing-and-miss on one of Wilkerson's glorified lobs. "I'll probably hear more about the swing-and-miss than the homer," Wendle said.

-- For the second straight day, Randy Arozarena had four hits and drove in four runs. He also had a homer.

"The home runs are great, but the over all at-bats…he’s really squaring the ball up," Cash said. "He’s taking his hits the other way. He’s getting pitches he can handle. He’s  hitting them out of the ballpark. We all know he has the ability to do that. He’s just really locked in. He seems to be seeing everything really really well."

-- Austin Meadows had three hits.

Lost in the shuffle was the two-hitter thrown by Rich Hill.

“Rich was really solid," Cash said. "From the side, it looked like it wasn't coming out as easy as we have seen in the past.  He had to battle through some command with the breaking ball. Man, he gave us everything. He competed really well. When he needed to make a big pitch, he made it."

The Rays now play in Dunedin against the Toronto Blue Jays in a four-game series. Tyler Glasnow will start for Tampa Bay in tonight's 7:37 game. The Blue Jays have not announced their starting pitcher.

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