Rays doing everything right in 15-1 run

Zunino homers, Phillips goes deep on birthday and AL East leaders win 4th straight

May 30th, 2021

The red-hot Rays continued their winning ways on Sunday afternoon with a 6-2 victory against the Phillies at Tropicana Field. It was Tampa Bay’s fourth straight win and 15th in its past 16 games.

The Rays extended their American League East lead over the Red Sox to one game after Boston’s game against Miami was rained out Sunday. Tampa Bay holds a 4 1/2-game lead over New York, which lost to Detroit on Sunday. The Rays head to the Bronx on Monday for a big four-game series against the division-rival Yankees.

• Box score

“There's a lot of things going our way,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We'd like to think we're creating some of those things and guys are taking advantage of opportunities, whether it's at the plate, off the mound or defensively. Any time you go on a run like this team has been on, you’ve got to do a lot of things right. And fortunately for us, we are right now.”

Sunday’s surge was led by catcher , who came to bat in the bottom of the second with Joey Wendle on first. On a 1-1 pitch, Zunino smashed a 116.1-mph line drive over the left-field wall to give the Rays a 2-0 lead. Zunino leads the team -- and all MLB catchers -- with 12 homers on the year.

“Yeah, I mean, next, next, next level,” Wendle said of Zunino’s home run. “I've never played with somebody that has consistently hit the ball as hard as he has. His exit velocities and just the way that the ball jumps off his bat is pretty special.”

gave the Rays a cushion with a solo homer to right-center, his third of the season, for a 3-0 lead in the fifth. Celebrating his 27th birthday, Phillips went 2-for-3  (and became Tampa Bay's first No. 9 hitter to homer on his birthday).

Phillips’ bat has come alive over the past few weeks. He already has a career-high 13 RBIs, and his three homers have all come over his past 27 games.

“It's the first game that I've played in the big leagues on my birthday,” Phillips said. “So a few things [have happened] that are really cool, and then obviously to homer on my birthday, it doesn't get any better than that, other than the win. It was a great day. Overall, it's gonna be a happy flight, and [I’m] just excited we were able to pull through with the win.”

Phillips’ homer went with the mentality the Rays have right now. Tampa Bay scored all of its runs Sunday with two outs. Over this 15-1 stretch, the Rays have outscored their opponents by 63 runs (116-53).

“Pitching and defense has always picked us up, and now during this run, it's just putting together good ABs,” Phillips said. “[We’re] not trying to do too much. We kind of knocked off the rust, and we're getting our offense going.”

The Rays have never trailed over their four-game winning streak, which began after their 11-game winning streak was snapped in a 2-1 loss to the Royals last Tuesday.

put Tampa Bay in position to win. Fleming entered with two outs and two runners on in the first in relief of Collin McHugh, and he pitched a solid 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out five.

“I know 15 of 16 is a difficult thing to do and quite an accomplishment,” Wendle said. “But it's May, and we know we have four months of the season left, so I don't think we're going to rest on our recent successes. … I don't think it's time to sit back and pat ourselves on the back. I think we’re on the gas pedal right now, and we're just gonna keep swinging, keep competing.”