Rays’ offense lights it up against New York

by Gary Shelton on May 16, 2021

in general

Wendle had a big day at the plate./JEFFREY S. KING

Sunday, 4 a.m.

Sometimes, the point isn't just to dig the long ball.

Sometimes, hitting it often is a bigger deal.

Just ask the Tampa Bay Rays, who managed to win their third straight game Saturday, a 12-5 pounding of the New York Mets. For once, the Rays didn't worry about the knockout punch. It merely jabbed and moved for the entire afternoon.

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The Rays didn't hit a home run on the day, but they had 15 hits -- eight of which were doubles -- to come from behind to beat the Mets. Over their last three games, all wins, the Rays have had 32 hits, and 29 of those have not been over the fence.

"If anyting, it shows the value of putting the ball in play," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. "Putting some pressure on the defense -- it felt like that really showed up. We found some holes, but you have to like the way the guys pieced together some innings and drove the ball as well."

Granted, not hitting home runs hasn't been the key to success. Saturday's game was the 13th time the Rays haven't gone long, and they have only three wins to show for it. But when the team is in a slump, as it has been lately, it can get into a pattern where every swing seems to be for the fence. Hence the strikeouts; the Rays have struck out 434 times this season.

Saturday, however, was an example of how strong the Rays can be when they string hits together. In both the fourth and the eighth, the Rays had five hits.

The Rays fell behind 4-1, but came back on the strength of a five-run fifth and a six-run eighth. Joey Wendle had three doubles and Yandy Diaz two. For the day, Wendle had four hits, Diaz and Randy Arozarena had three and Austin Meadows had two.

"Joey, he competes," Cash said. "He competes really, really well. It seems like he’s in every at-bat."

For the Rays, Shane McClanahan notched his first major league victory. He gave up four earned runs, but recovered enough to throw 5 1/3 innings.

The Rays will go for a sweep against the Mets today at 1:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Josh Fleming will pitch for Tampa Bay against Marcus Stroman of the Mets.

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