Rays finish impressive season with win No. 90

by Gary Shelton on October 1, 2018 · 4 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Wendle finished the season hitting .300./STEVEN MUNCIE

Monday, 3 a.m.

We will remember them as plucky. We will remember them as scrappy. Most of all, we will remember the 2018 Tampa Bay Rays as overachievers.

The Rays wrapped up their season Sunday afternoon in fine style. They won their 90th game, and rookie Joey Wendle finished with a .300 batting average, and outfielder Mallex Smith finished with 40 steals, and pitcher Ryan Yarbrough finished with 16 wins.

In all, it was a satisfying conclusion to a pleasing season. For all the close wins, and all the close losses, and all the injuries, and all the newcomers and all of the bartered-away veterans, it was possible for the Rays to finish with grins on their faces.

“Successful," is the way manager Kevin Cash put it. "It was successful. KK just talked to the guys in there and I think it resonates with them that we

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Yarbrough won his 16th game for Rays./STEVEN MUNCIE

should be very proud of the way we played this year, the things that we accomplished, the groundwork we laid, but we aren’t satisfied.

"Today was a big win. We had a lot of big things happen. Joey Wendle with the .300 (batting average), Mallex with 40 stolen bases, C.J. Cron got his 30th (home run) the other day. I believe Ryan Yarbrough broke

Jake Bauers finished with a three-for-three day./STEVEN MUNCIE

the rookie record for wins and we should have a Cy Young Award winner to announce in a month or so. All of that is great, but secondary to us getting to the postseason and continue to live in that postseason. I thought the message that KK presented, I think the guys buy into it and understand it. We need to go into this offseason and enjoy ourselves, take a month and then get back after it.”

The Rays had to win their final two games to finish with 90 wins. Only Boston (7), Los Angeles (7), the Yankees (6) and the Rays (6) have a half-dozen seasons of winning 90 in the last 11.

Willy Adames celebrates another hit./STEVEN MUNCIE

“It sounds better to say that you won 90 games as opposed to 89," Cash said. "But there’s no doubt, we wanted to get to a round number or with a zero on it. We had a couple cracks at it and we fell a little short with the New York series.

"The guys have shown themselves up really well throughout many parts of this season and I think this series was really no different. We falter the first night and they come out and win two games to make sure that we are able to say 90.”

Among the highlights of the day was Wendle going one-for-three and driving in two runs to finish at .300. Fans at the game gave him a curtain call to show their appreciation.

Pham moves to avoid getting hit by the ball./STEVEN MUNCIE

“I was up here (in the clubhouse) when they started," Wendle said. "That was fun. I prefer to not bring a lot of attention to myself, but I certainly do appreciate the gesture from Cash and the coaching staff and also from the fans. That was pretty special for me.

"Whether guys like to admit it or not, .300 is kind of a number that’s special, but whether it’s .301 or .299, it’s not that important to me. I just can’t say enough about this team and the guys in this clubhouse. I love every single one of them. I’m proud of them. It was a really fun and special season for us.”

Smith finished with 40 steals for Tampa Bay./STEVEN MUNCIE

While Wendle was indifferent to hitting .300, first baseman Jake Bauers was thrilled to hit .201 with a three-for-three day.

“I don’t know what to say, man," Bauers said. "Finishing the year with a

batting average not under .200 feels good. I don’t think I would have ever thought I’d be happy about hitting .200, but here we are.

"But in all seriousness, I’m just proud of this entire clubhouse. We had a lot of people individually do a lot of things that I don’t think they thought they were capable of. That kind of turned into an environment that made

Stanek celebrates early success./STEVEN MUNCIE

you want to come to work every day and give everything you have for these guys. That was special.”

Already, the Rays are thinking about spring training.

“You take every day as a lesson, as much as you can," Bauers said. "Take as much as you can out of it, good or bad. It all sets you up for when everyone is ready to go.I think there are a lot of people in here that are pretty sad this is over because we’re pretty excited for next year. I don’t

think anyone has ever looked forward to spring training as much as this group, because we know what we did this year was something that not many people expected us to do and we know that next year is only going

Romo takes over the role of the ball boy./STEVEN MUNCIE

to be better.”

The Rays won 10 more games than a year ago. They scored more runs, hit for a higher average, struck out less and stole more bases. They hit fewer home runs, but it didn't seem to matter.

Smith had the team's third 40-steal season.The first two came when Carl Crawford stole 47 and B.J. (now Melvin) Upton had 42 in 2010.

Tommy Pham extended his on-base streak to 32 games,tied for fourth in team history. Johnny Damon has the most with 39 games.

Velazquez walks to first after getting hit by the ball./STEVEN MUNCIE




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