Wendle comes up big in latest Rays’ win

by Gary Shelton on September 26, 2020

in general

Saturday, 3 a.m.

He is not the swiftest of the Tampa Bay Rays. He is not the biggest, not the strongest.

But Joey Wendle has his place on the Rays, and his teammates know it.

If they had forgotten somehow, Wendle reminded them on Friday night, starring at the field and the plate in a 6-4 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. The victory moved the Rays to within one game of clinching the overall No. 1 seed in the American League.

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In the bottom of the eighth inning, Wendle hit a 1-0 pitch into right field for a two-run single to break a 4-4 tie. The Rays had trailed 4-1 at one point.

In the top of the eighth, Wendle had made a long running catch on a short fly to right field off the bat of Jean Segura.

"Joey does so many things to help you win a game," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "He’s a winning player. That at-bat comes up huge for us. I don’t know how many second basemen in the game range to get to that ball like he did. Special player. Big big massive part of our club."

On his single, Wendle said he was "looking for something up." He got in and drove in Yoshi Tsutsugo and Hunter Renfroe. On the catch, he said he was grateful that right fielder Brett Phillips didn't dive. "Or we might be having a different conversation."

The Rays, who have already clinched the playoffs, the AL East and the best winning percentage in franchise history, are now trying to win the overall seed in the upcoming playoffs.

Philllips, a Seminole High alum, had his biggest night as a Ray. He singled in one run and hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the sixth.

"We knew when we acquired him we had a guy who was very athletically talented," Cash said. "He kind of checked a lot of boxes in the minors. We know we’ve got a guy we like who can do some special things."

The Rays started Charlie Morton, who didn't have one of his sharpest nights. He gave up all four runs (three earned) in his five innings of work.

“He had some good (moments) and some okay," Cash said. "He looked like he fought himself a little bit. We made a mess of the inning when they scored three. We didn’t help out defensively too much. I thought Charlie was fine. If we’re going to view that as a tune-up -- we all know if Charlie needs to find an extra gear, Charlie can find it in big games, and big moments. If that opportunity arises, he’ll be ready to go.”

The Rays play their next-to-last game of the regular season today at 7:07 p.m. John Curtiss will open for the Rays. The Phillies have not announced their starter.

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