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With offense clicking, Rays reach new heights

Club overcoming injuries to surge past .500
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Maybe it's time to acknowledge the obvious: The Rays are playing pretty good baseball.

Let the numbers speak for themselves.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- Maybe it's time to acknowledge the obvious: The Rays are playing pretty good baseball.

Let the numbers speak for themselves.

View Full Game Coverage

After Friday night's 15-5 win over the Orioles, the Rays moved to four games over .500 for the first time this season.

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Morrison, Longoria and other #ASGWorthy players

"We feel good about where we're at," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "... Don't want to look too far ahead. But the guys, they've come together really well. Found ways to win series.

"Some series we've won by slugging. Some series we've won by getting really good starting pitching. Today obviously the hitting played a huge role. But we've said for a while we're a good team."

And on the bright side, they've reached their high-water mark after facing a lot of adversity. Injuries have plagued the team all season. Kevin Kiermaier, Brad Miller, Brad Boxberger, and Matt Duffy are on the disabled list, to name a few. The Rays keep on truckin'.

Take Friday night.

Prior to the game, Colby Rasmus went on the 10-day disabled list. So they selected Shane Peterson from Triple-A Durham to take his place. And the Rays got the kind of performance from Peterson any team on a roll might expect: A home run with a career-high four RBIs.

Video: BAL@TB: Cash talks about offense in big win over O's

So many times over the course of the past couple of years, Rays pitchers have produced gems, only to falter due to lack of offense.

Friday night's starter, Chris Archer, wasn't at his best, allowing five runs in six innings. But it didn't matter.

The Rays just kept scoring, feasting on mistakes from the beleaguered Orioles staff.

"We look at us as having a dangerous lineup," Cash said. "When you talk about all nine of your hitters, a mistake can change a ballgame with a couple guys on by hitting the ball out of the ballpark.

"A lot of people talked about the strikeouts for awhile. Hitting home runs, that seems like that coincides with the strikeouts in today's game. It's a deep lineup that seems to be clicking pretty well right now."

Video: BAL@TB: Rays plate two on Longoria's bloop single

Evan Longoria has had a less than auspicious first half. Entering Friday night's game, he was hitting .249 with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs. Nevertheless, the longest-tenured Rays player remains the man. He's still the guy other teams talk about having to pitch to carefully while negotiating the Rays' lineup. Friday night he had four RBIs. The Rays' offense has been potent to date. If Longoria gets hot, that would bode well for the Rays' chances to remain in contention.

"I know that he's not where he wants to be," said Logan Morrison, who hit his 22nd homer. "But there's a lot of season left, and I'm sure he'll get there. He's been doing this way too long not to."

The Rays have hit multiple home runs in five straight games, and the 15 runs Friday night matched the most the team has scored under Cash.

"I think we are [a good team]," Corey Dickerson said. "We believe in one another. I don't think there's been a point in the season when we questioned it. I think that four games up is a good spot for us, because we felt like every time we got up, we got back to even or .500, and finally we've climbed above .500 a little bit, and now we want to try and keep it going."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays