Rays edge Yankees again to go into the break

by Gary Shelton on July 8, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Morton won his 10th game Suday./CHUCK MULLER

Monday, 3 a.m.

Here at the break, there are a few things we have learned about the Tampa Bay Rays.

-- It isn't always hopeless against the New York Yankees. There for a while, it seemed to be as the Rays dropped seven straight, but Sunday's 2-1 victory was the team's second in a row. The Rays came to within 6 1/2 games of New York in the AL East division race.

-- Charlie Morton is a beast. Morton ran his record to 10-2, not bad considering that Morton has never won more than 15 games in a season. Morton has allowed one run or fewer in three of his last four starts.

-- The Rays are a flawed team, but 52 wins by the break isn't bad.

-- Emilio Pagan is making a pronounced move toward becoming the Rays' closer. He saved his fifth game Sunday, and now trails the slumping Jose Alvarado and Diego Castilla by just two.

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Pham had two hits, but said he doesn't feel right./TIM WIRT

All in all, Sunday was a good day for the Rays to break. They scored twice in the first inning and made it stand up. The Yankees scored only on a solo homer by Brett Gardner in the second. Four Rays' relievers threw shutout baseball for 3 1/3 innings to close out the win.

“It was nice win to split a series that didn’t go our way right at the beginning, the first two games," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "Guys showed a lot coming out today. There wasn’t a ton of offense, but we get two really early. It’s a good thing we did because (James) Paxton got really tough. It seemed like his velo increased throughout the game. But those two runs were the difference. Charlie Morton continues to impress and do his thing out there and give us an opportunity. Good to see the bullpen come in and have some clean work and really be efficient.”

The Rays feel better about themselves entering the All-Star break.

“A much better feeling than it was headed, I guess," Cash said. "We talked about it before the game — we’ve talked about it more than we’d like to lately — we’ve gone  through a tough stretch. That doesn’t take away from the fact that we have a good team. We’ve played really well in the first half. We’ve got stuff we can improve upon in the second half. We’re pleased where we’re at and these two wins certainly helped that.”

Morton said his philosophy was simple.

“I try to find some weaknesses and I attack those weaknesses as much as I can," Morton said. "I try to stay with my strengths if I can and keep the hitters off balance. They’re just good hitters. You just have to make good pitches.

“I feel good about my body of work in the first half. I think for the most part I’ve been able to keep the team in games and work a little bit deeper into some games in the past month, which has been pretty rewarding. It’s the first half. We’ve got a long way to go.”

Tommy Pham had two hits for the Rays. So did Yandy Diaz, Avisail Garcia and Kevin Kiermaier.

“Mechanically, I’m not right right now," Pham said. "I’m very happy to leave this game with a ‘W’ and two hits. The feel doesn’t match the production right now for me, but I’ll take it.

“I felt like we played well, but I feel like we can play a whole lot better. We’ve had a tough stretch where we’ve played kind of more games and days, and we haven’t been playing the best right now to our abilities. That’s why it’s a long season. We’ll be better.”

The Rays are now off until Friday, when they return to play against Baltimore in Camden Yards. The first pitch will be at 7:05 p.m.

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