Perez opens the door, Anderson closes it

by Gary Shelton on September 5, 2020

in general

Anderson worked his way out of a jam for the save./CHUCK MULLER

Saturday, 4 a.m.

The more you see him on the mound, the more you appreciate Neal Anderson. He deals in bullets.

The more you see him behind the plate, the more you like Mikey Perez. He's the Rays' new Mr. Clutch.

And the more you see this Rays' team, the more you think they could be something special.

The Rays won their eighth game in nine outings, and they won their 21st in the last 25 games, with a 5-4 victory over the Miami Marlins Friday

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night. There were a few reasons why, but for the main two, just think about the starting catcher (for now) and the closing pitcher.

Anderson, on his first game back from the injured list, got his fourth save of the season. He struck out John Berti for the final out with two runners on base.

"I don't worry about the situation," Anderson said. "If. you strike everyone out, it doesn't matter how many runners are on base."

Ah, then there is his battery-mate. Michael Perez, who keeps coming up in big moments. Perez had a three-run double in the fourth inning to lead the Rays' offense. He has 10 RBI in 24 games this season, not bad for a .173 hitter.

 “I  was a little disappointed in my first at-bat," Perez said. "When it came to my second at bat, i was just trying to do what I normally do --  try to stay calm and relax and try to barrel it. Mainly, you have to focus a little  more in a situation like that with men on base."

Rays' manager Kevin Cash liked seeing it.

"That was a big one," Cash said of the moment. "You go back and look at the highlight reel, and it was a pretty good pitch -- well located down and away. Good for Mikey to stay on it and get the barrel to it and really drive it out for a bases loaded double. We needed it. We knew that guy (Pablo Lopez) was tough. We had just faced him a week ago. Credit Mikey for going out there and staying on a ball and coming up big for us.”

The Rays' got another start, and another win, from rookie Josh Fleming. But for the Rays, the bullpen was the hidden hero. Four Rays relievers threw shutout ball to lead Tampa Bay.

“Nick’s pretty special," Cash said . "Nick's the same guy. You can’t ever tell what he’s thinking out on the mound, emotionally or anything like that. He stays so level. We’re fortunate to have him.”

The Rays have now beaten Miami in nine straight games.

The two will play again tonight at 6:40 p.m at Tropicana Field. Blake Snell will start for the Rays against Miami's Sandy Alcantara.

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