Rays reach the playoffs after win over Jays

by Gary Shelton on September 28, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Cash saw his team celebrate the playoffs./JEFFREY S. KING

For 2,180 days, they were just another team.

For 2,180 days, they were playing other games you didn't play much attention to. They wandered the desert, living at the bottom of the American League East. They lost players. They lost games. They lost their way.

And now, they're back.

And they matter.

The Tampa Bay Rays clinched the post-season late Friday night, combining a 6-2 win over Toronto with Cleveland's 8-2 loss to Washington. The Rays still have a chance to overtake Oakland for Wednesday's Wild-Card game.

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Not since Oct. 8, 2013, had the Rays been a team of substance. That night, they lost a 3-1 game to Boston in the AL playoffs. Then they lost their way. But there was a difference to this team this season, a bounce-back quality that allowed it to forget about its own injuries or its own defeats.

And now it has 96 wins, and it's 31 games over .500, and at last it gets a ticket to the post-season. It's the fifth time in franchise history the team has made the playoffs. It managed it despite revamping its bullpen during the season, despite injuries, despite a low payroll.

 “Wow," summed up manager Kevin Cash. "It’s a wow factor what’s taken place, especially over this last month. These guys have been tremendous all season long. We knew we had to get better (than last year), and these guys found a way to get better. We were really good last year. We were better this year. we’ve still got work to be done. "

The Rays pulled it off despite losing Cy Young winner Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow. 

“A lot of teams deal with injuries." Cash said. "We can argue that we were right there at the top of the list with the guys we lost.  They didn’t lose their fight."

The Rays won Friday after Tommy Pham hit his 21st home run and Austin Meadows hit his 33rd. Tyler Glasnow started for the Rays and threw 4 1/3 innings of no-hit baseball.

“I love it," said Kevin Kiermaier as champagne flowed over his face. "There is a saying in baseball. You earn the burn. 

“I haven’t done this since 2013, my first stay in the big leagues.  Damn it feels good to do it again with these guys. This is a great group and we’re not done yet. We’ve been resilient all year. There’s never any quit in us. It means the world. No one counted on us to do anything. We’re here and we’re not done."

The Rays were 3-4 against the A's this season.

"It’s part of our goal," Pham said. "It's not the ultimate goal, but it’s a step in the right direction. 

Said reliever Emilio Pagan: "Stay calm. Stay collected. Keep doing what we’ve done all year. They’re going to fight us until the last out. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Great competition from both sides."

The Rays will play Oakland on Wednesday night, with the site undetermined. Charlie Morton will start for the Rays.


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