Monday, December 11, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays open eyes with another series win (w/video)

CLEVELAND -— Shut your eyes for a minute.

Let go of the games the Rays bullpen has blown this season. Forget about the ones the Rays have given away with sloppy defense, including Gold Glover Kevin Kiermaier. Get over the wasted scoring opportunities, the baserunning mistakes, the glaring fundamental failures.

Now open, and look at this Rays team.

One that beat the Indians 7-4 Wednesday, making it an impressive two of three in both Cleveland and Boston to improve to 21-22, the team's first winning road trip in nearly a year.

"This is who we are," first baseman Logan Morrison insisted. "Us giving away games is not who we are. Those are just aberrations. From here on out, it's just winning series, finding a way, whatever it is."

Sure, there were still moments this trip, specifically one very messy inning in Boston, where the Rays still looked a mess.

But overall there was much more promise.

RAYS JOURNAL: Kevin Kiermaier returns to his Gold standard with HR-robbing catch.

Alex Cobb and three other starters pitching deeper while Blake Snell was replaced by Erasmo Ramirez in the rotation. The bullpen has been somewhat stabilized in front of trusty Alex Colome with the addition of hard-throwing rookies Jose Alvarado and Ryne Stanek. The offense has come out ahead despite an odd formula of mixing homers, walks and a heaping pile of strikeouts.

Still, promise.

"I think so," manager Kevin Cash said. "We're finding some things out about some of our young bullpen pitchers. … These guys could become really big weapons for us. It's very encouraging when you see the starting pitching clicking and the offense clicking at the same time. We played pretty complete baseball."

Looking around Wednesday, there were plenty of good signs.

Cobb has reinvented himself as a fastball-curveball pitcher in lieu of the return of his still-missing/reward-offered killer changeup, and has become pretty darn good at it. He's now 3-1, 2.78 over his past five starts, not allowing more than three earned runs each time.

TOPKIN'S TAKEAWAYS: Beat writer Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Indians game.

One highlight Wednesday was four strikeouts looking, a telling sign of the movement on his fastball. Another was throwing 115 pitches, his most post-May 2015 Tommy John elbow surgery.

"(Wednesday) was the best I felt since I came back from surgery mechanically and the ability to get to another level of aggressiveness over the rubber," Cobb said.

Morrison last season didn't hit the first of his 14 homers until May 18. On Wednesday he clubbed his team-leading 11th, to go with his Rays-most 27 RBIs, validating the seemingly stubborn decision by the front office to re-sign him.

"It's just a start, and it's a decent one," Morrison said. "But I feel like it could be better."

Corey Dickerson not only showed off his power again — his ninth homer overall and third in two days — but continues to be one of the league's top producers with an AL-most 53 hits and 18 multihit games to go with a .335 average.

"We've got mini-Mike Trout over here leading the way," Morrison said.

Kiermaier, who looked so uncharacteristically lost in centerfield last week, made a spectacular home-run robbing catch for the final out. Substitute shortstop Tim Beckham racked up three more hits to push his average to .279, rookie infielder Daniel Robertson flashed leather filling in at second. Backup catcher Jesus Sucre hit the team's third homer of the day and its three-game series record 10th.

"We're coming out of here on a huge high. We're pumped with the way this road trip went," said starter Alex Cobb, who worked seven strong innings.

"We've done enough to not put ourselves in too much of a hole. … We've shown some signs throughout the whole season of what we're capable of. And for us to get where we want to be it all needs to come together on a consistent night-to-night basis.

"You can see that the talent is there for us to do that. It's just a matter of cleaning it all up and trimming the fat off and doing it."

Can you bear to watch?

Marc Topkin can be reached at mtopkin@tampabay.com.

Comments
Tampa Bay Rays cornerstone Evan Longoria “somewhere in limbo” due to trade speculation

Tampa Bay Rays cornerstone Evan Longoria “somewhere in limbo” due to trade speculation

Franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria considers his future with the Rays "somewhere in limbo" based on speculation he could be traded as part of a cost-cutting and rebuilding movement."I don't know what to think, really,'' Longoria told the Tampa Ba...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Uncertain with all the talk about potentially rebuilding if the Rays would go as far as trading franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria?So is he."I don’t know what to think, really,’’ Longoria said via text message Sunday night as t...
Updated: 6 hours ago
AL East life gets even tougher for Rays with Yankees acquiring slugger Giancarlo Stanton from Marlins

AL East life gets even tougher for Rays with Yankees acquiring slugger Giancarlo Stanton from Marlins

The Marlins apparently found a trade to Giancarlo Stanton's liking, reportedly striking a deal early Saturday to send the slugging outfielder to the Yankees.That's bad news for the Rays and the other AL East teams, who will now have to face Stanton &...
Published: 12/09/17
Rays radio broadcaster Andy Freed takes part in event supporting fight against ALS

Rays radio broadcaster Andy Freed takes part in event supporting fight against ALS

Tampa Bay Rays radio broadcaster Andy Freed was up early Saturday to meet up with the Bladerunners team in Clearwater at the ALS Association Florida Chapter's annual Ride, Run, Roll to Defeat ALS, supporting Mike Leist, a former history teacher at St...
Published: 12/09/17
Winter Meetings Preview: Ranking the Rays most likely to be dealt

Winter Meetings Preview: Ranking the Rays most likely to be dealt

Rays officials head to Disney for this week’s winter meetings admitting they don’t know what they’re doing. Wait — that’s not exactly right. It’s more that they don’t know what they’re going to do.Having spent months collecting info and discussing op...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/09/17
Dwight Gooden dons Santa suit, but scene is hardly festive

Dwight Gooden dons Santa suit, but scene is hardly festive

NEW YORK — In one sense, there was nothing unusual about what Dwight Gooden was doing Tuesday night. In the spirit of the holiday season, he had been summoned to dress like Santa Claus and, as a result, was decked out in a red suit and hat, a curly w...
Published: 12/08/17

Rays sue outgoing concessionaire over "sad history" of failures

The Tampa Bay Rays sued outgoing concessionaire Centerplate in U.S. District Court on Friday, alleging the company harmed the team’s reputation, damaged its facilities and did not pay a fair share of revenue as part of a "sad history of failing to fu...
Published: 12/08/17
Ohtani makes surprising decision in picking Angels; will face Rays in July at the Trop

Ohtani makes surprising decision in picking Angels; will face Rays in July at the Trop

Japanese two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani decided on his team Friday, and it was something of a surprise as he opted to sign with the Angels.The Mariners and Padres had emerged as the favorites from the seven teams that were chosen, from the full fiel...
Published: 12/08/17
As Tampa Bay Rays head to winter meetings, they are open to “anything and everything” in terms of deals

As Tampa Bay Rays head to winter meetings, they are open to “anything and everything” in terms of deals

Tampa Bay Rays officials will head to next week's winter meetings at Disney eager to get started making moves and willing to consider just about anything – and trading anybody – that they feel makes sense."We have to be open," GM Erik Nea...
Published: 12/07/17

How Ohtani, Stanton deals could impact Rays’ offseason plans

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays, like much of baseball, are waiting for the white smoke, for Shohei Ohtani to pick where he is signing and for Giancarlo Stanton to decide on accepting a trade to the Cardinals, Giants or whatever other team might be involve...
Published: 12/07/17