Bullpen keeps Rays’ winning streak going

by Gary Shelton on May 23, 2021

in general

Castillo picked up his eighth save for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Sunday, 3 p.m.

At one point, they seemed to be on the verge of asking for volunteers. After losing Nick Anderson and others to injuries, the bullpen of the Tampa Bay Rays was in shambles.

But take a second glance at the bullpen, which once again is one of the key elements of the Rays.

That bullpen was stellar once again Saturday night in a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. Four Rays' relievers pitched four innings of shutout baseball, allowing only two hits, as the team won its ninth straight game.

The Rays, who pitched 7 1/3 innings on Friday night -- allowing just two earned runs -- was even better this time. Andrew Kittredge got the win in relief. J.P. Feyereisen threw a shutout inning in his debut. Pete Fairbanks got a hold, and Diego Castillo earned his eighth save.

You know. Business as usual.

Coming into the game, the Rays' bullpen had a 3.48 ERA, fourth in the American League. In the last 27 games, its ERA is 2.38.

The offense wasn't as juiced as it has been during its winning streak, but the team did come from behind for the 14th time. Mike Zunino hit his 11th home run in the fifth, and the Rays scratched out single runs in the eighth and ninth.

In the eighth, Randy Arozarena took third on a wild pitch that wasn't far away from catcher Danny Jansen, then scored on Manuel Margot's single. If he did not take third, he probably could not have scored on Margot's hit.

In the ninth, newcomer Tayler Walls -- called up to replace the traded Willy Adames on the roster -- took third when the ball bounced away from Jansen and scored on Jansen's throwing error.

“I think everybody on the team, every department (is playing well)," said manager Kevin Cash. "Defense, the pitching, and the offense coming to life coming together at the right time.  A lot of really, really good baseball. Our pitching is just outstanding. To do what we’ve done the last two nights from the bullpen on is pretty spectacular, the way they’re limiting a good Toronto offense."

Cash appreciated that his team did the little things in the win.

"Randy and Taylor advancing on the dirt ball getting away from Jansen was huge," Cash said. "It allowed us to score a run. The little things like that in close games matter. Moving an extra 90 feet helped us win. 

"I don’t think we’re playing more aggressively. I‘d like to think we’re playing wise. We’re making decisions. There are times to put pressure on the defense, and we’re picking the right times to do that."

Shane McClanahan started for the Rays and went five innings, allowing just one run, before Cash turned the game over the bullpen.

The Rays have not announced a starter for today's game at 1:07 p.m. in Dunedin. The Blue Jays will start Hyun Jin Ryu.

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