Rays clinch division title against Miami

by Gary Shelton on September 26, 2021

in general

Lowe had four hits for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING


Sunday, 4 a.m.

It took 155 games, winding through ups and downs, the injuries and the call-ups.. It took more than five dozen (61) players. It took more than three dozen (38) pitchers. It took 46 comebacks.

After it all, however, the Tampa Bay Rays are American League champions.

The Rays clinched the title -- their fourth division title -- with a 7-3 victory over the Miami Marlins. Like a lot of Rays' wins, it included a comeback, and a hairy finish (the Marlins loaded the bases in the ninth).

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But the Rays won, and coupled with the Yankees' win over Boston, it wrapped up the team's fourth division title, their second in a row and the first time it had won it at home.

The Rays got four hits (three of them doubles) from Brandon Lowe and a two-run homer from Mike Zunino in the victory, their 96th of the season.

The Rays have seven games to play, in which they will try to wrap up the best record in the league.

“It means a lot," Zunino said of the title. "To accomplish it on a shortened season (last year) is good. To do it on a full 162 is a feat. I’m proud of this team."

The Rays got five innings from starter Shane McClanahan, who gave up only one earned run. Collin McHugh gave up two earned runs.

"It's pretty special," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "WE go into every year knowing it's a daunting task, but this group can do some special things. They've proven that for the last six months."

The Rays played without slugger Nelson Cruz or rookie sensation Wander Franco, who currently has a 40-game on base streak.

"We’re just a hard-working, blue-collar type of team," said outfielder Kevin Kiermaier. "You see a lot of teams with a World Series hangover. In spring training, I said 'hey fellows, let’s take that next step. Let’s be better,' This is the first step of it."

Said reliever Pete Fairbanks:  "I think we are as good as last year if not better. "

That remains to be seen. The Rays close out their regular season today against the Marlins, then have series in Houston and New York.

Today (1:10 p.m.) at Tropicana Field, Shane Baz will start for the Rays against Jesús Luzardo .


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