ST. PETERSBURG — One have a look at third baseman Taylor Walls’ dirt-caked uniform advised you every part about how the Rays defeated the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on Thursday afternoon.
Tampa Bay is on tempo for greater than 300 residence runs this season, however its 6-3 victory featured much less bash and extra sprint. Hustle, aggressive baserunning and an ideal 7-for-7 line in stolen bases have been the recipe for fulfillment.
“You’re going to have to find ways to win ballgames without slugging every now and then,” stated Walls. “Today, we had guys on base, had good opportunities to take advantage of the stuff that we had. The situations pretty much told us when to [run] and we just trusted it and went.”
Walls recorded two of these seven steals, which matched a season excessive that Tampa Bay set on May 17 vs. the Mets and is one shy of the franchise report. No different MLB staff has stolen greater than six bases in a recreation this season, and the final membership to nab as many bases with out being caught have been the 2017 Nationals.
According to Walls, the Rays “felt like they had something” on Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah as soon as they received on base. While credit score was given to first-base coach Chris Prieto’s scouting report, no state secrets and techniques have been divulged. Regardless, the membership repeatedly made probably the most of that vulnerability, as evidenced by the third inning.
That’s when Walls stole second following a stroll after which pulled off a double steal with first baseman Luke Raley because the path runner. The throw to 3rd from Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk was low and skidded away from third baseman Matt Chapman, permitting Walls to come back residence whereas Raley gained an additional 90 ft. Manuel Margot made Toronto pay for that error with a cue shot to first base that was sufficient to deliver Raley in and develop Tampa Bay’s lead.
“Sometimes you’ve got to push it a little bit, and I thought the guys did,” supervisor Kevin Cash stated. “There were a lot of heads-up baserunning plays. A lot of steals, going to second. The Walls steal going to third was huge.”
Shortstop Wander Franco additionally stole two luggage, giving him a team-high 17. After recording 10 steals over his first two seasons, Franco is on tempo to turn out to be the primary Ray to surpass 50 stolen bases since outfielder Carl Crawford did it in 2009.
Tampa Bay leads the Majors in steals (62) and makes an attempt (78), however its baserunning brilliance extends to particular hustle performs that gained’t be discovered on any statistical leaderboard.
For instance, after Randy Arozarena tied the rating at 1-1 with an RBI single, Brandon Lowe whiffed on a pitch within the grime that ought to have been the second out of the body. But as an alternative of giving up, Lowe took off for first because the ball skipped away from Kirk.
The hustle paid off, because the ball spun again towards the first-base line. Once Kirk fielded it alongside the chalk, his throw to the bag was late and Lowe was dominated protected after evaluate. Then, Harold Ramírez’s sharp grounder to second may have been an inning-ending double play, however the ball was bobbled by Cavan Biggio, and Ramírez legged out the throw to first, permitting Arozarena to come back residence on a fielder’s selection.
“It’s easy to assume that when you swing and miss, you have no chance, but Brandon recognized it and put it in gear,” Cash stated. “Harold, he always does such a good job of getting down the baseline.”
By the beginning of the fourth inning, the Rays held a 5-1 lead, knocking Manoah out of the sport and cruising behind starter Zach Eflin, who scattered six hits and two walks over seven innings. The righty stated he didn’t really feel nice when he awakened this morning, and he knew this is able to be a “grinder day” for him. Although Eflin didn’t report a strikeout, his stuff enabled him to get 12 groundouts, together with two double performs towards the speedy Kevin Kiermaier.
Eflin grew to become the primary Rays beginning pitcher since Mark Hendrickson in 2004 to go at the very least seven innings and not using a strikeout.
“I think that’s honestly pretty impressive, to go seven innings with zero [strikeouts],” stated Eflin. “I think that’s harder to do than seven innings and 10 strikeouts. It was just one of those days where I was praying they were going to ground into double plays and just get early contact.”
Next up for the Rays is a three-game collection at residence vs. the Dodgers, starting Friday. The two powerhouses haven’t met for the reason that 2020 World Series, when Los Angeles prevailed in six video games.
Cash stated he has loads of nice recollections from that Fall Classic, regardless of the loss. Arozarena, in his debut yr, turned in among the best postseason performances in MLB historical past. When requested Wednesday what he remembers most about that magical run, he made it clear that the defeat nonetheless stings.
“What I remember is that we lost against them,” Arozarena stated by way of interpreter Manny Navarro. “It’s a very different team. I’m looking forward to this weekend. … 2020 was 2020, and it’s in the past.”