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Rays keep pressure on with sweep in Texas

Pham slugs 2 homers; Yarbrough sets Rays rookie wins record
September 19, 2018

ARLINGTON -- The Rays are continuing to keep their postseason hopes alive and apply pressure in the American League Wild Card race.An offensive onslaught keyed by Tommy Pham's two home runs helped Tampa Bay secure a 9-3 win and series sweep over Texas on Wednesday at Globe Life Park. The

ARLINGTON -- The Rays are continuing to keep their postseason hopes alive and apply pressure in the American League Wild Card race.
An offensive onslaught keyed by Tommy Pham's two home runs helped Tampa Bay secure a 9-3 win and series sweep over Texas on Wednesday at Globe Life Park. The Rays have won five consecutive games and remained 5 1/2 games behind the A's for the second Wild Card spot after the victory. Oakland routed the Angels 10-0 later on Wednesday and reduced its magic number to clinch the last AL playoff slot to six.
Pham went deep on a solo shot in the third inning, his 18th of the season. He added his 19th in the eighth inning on another solo shot to left-center field. Per Statcast™, Pham's second home run had an exit velocity of 106.5 mph and a distance of 430 feet.

"I really needed this game, personally," Pham said. "I'm trying to salvage my season. Things haven't gone as expected, so I'm just really trying to finish strong. I drove the ball good oppo, and I drove one good to left-center."
Pham recorded his seventh-career multi-homer game, and his first since Aug. 30, 2017, with the Cardinals. He extended his career-long on-base streak to 21 games and is batting .388 during that span.

"It's funny, he said something the other day that he's starting to feel really good and he showed it today," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "And then I think the rest of the guys kind of followed suit."
The Rays deployed a 16-hit attack and continued to receive strong production from rookie Joey Wendle, who followed up his four-hit night on Tuesday with a 3-for-4 day at the plate. Wendle went 8-for-12 with four doubles in the series against the Rangers.
Aside from Carlos Gomez, every starter in the Rays lineup recorded a hit. In addition to Pham and Wendle, Matt Duffy, C.J. Cron, Jake Bauers and Jesus Sucre each recorded at least two hits on the day.

It was all the support needed for "opener" Diego Castillo, who pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, and rookie Ryan Yarbrough, who went four innings and recorded his 15th win of the season.
"There was a lot of at-bats, a lot of big hits," Cash said. "Minus the home runs, we pieced it together really well and put pressure on their starter. [It] gave us an early lead, gave Diego and Yarbs some breathing room, and the pitching really stood up again."

Tampa Bay remains one of baseball's hottest teams, posting a 23-5 record since Aug. 19, the best in the Majors in that span. The Rays will play the Blue Jays seven times in their last 11 games, and they will host the Yankees next week in what could potentially be a pivotal four-game series.
But the Rays aren't trying to look too far ahead as they try to make one final push.
"Winning helps and winning's fun, and they're enjoying it right now," Cash said. "But I really think -- I don't think they're overlooking or looking too far ahead. I think they'll enjoy this one. It was hot out there. They'll probably get some rest on the plane and get ready for a big four-game series in Toronto."

SOUND SMART
Yarbrough's 15 wins are a franchise record for a rookie, surpassing Ronaldo Arroyo's 14 wins in 1998.
"It's obviously a huge accomplishment, especially with how many great pitchers have come through this organization," Yarbrough said. "But I can't just take the credit [myself]. Obviously, wins are a team effort kind of thing, so, the defense being played behind me and the run support has been huge. I just can't take the full credit myself."

HE SAID IT
"Their pitching staff is pitching well. They are finding a way to score runs. Not only do they have good starters, but their bullpen is doing well. They are legit, everybody throws 100. They have a good ballclub. If they were in a different division, they would be in first place. They are young, but they play the game right." -- Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, on the Rays
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With two outs in the sixth inning, Rangers pinch-hitter Willie Calhoun plated Nomar Mazara on a ball hit down the right-field line. Calhoun was initially awarded a double after beating out a throw from Gomez, but the Rays challenged the play and the call was overturned.

UP NEXT
Right-hander Ryne Stanek (2-3, 2.49 ERA) will make his 27th appearance as an "opener" in the Rays' series opener against the Blue Jays on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre. Stanek has struck out six in six scoreless innings this month and last appeared in relief on Tuesday against the Rangers. Righty Sam Gaviglio (3-8, 5.25) will start for Toronto.

Wesley Dotson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arlington.