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Cishek piling up zeros, helps shut down KC

Reliever logs 15 straight scoreless appearances for Rays
MLB.com @wwchastain

KANSAS CITY -- Steve Cishek is flirting with Rays royalty: Joe Borowski.

Tampa Bay fans will remember the summer of 2005 when Borowski joined the team and proceeded to post 20 scoreless appearances from July 15-Aug. 28, which still holds the top spot for longest streak of scoreless appearances at the start of his Rays career. And now Cishek is breathing the same exaulted air.

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KANSAS CITY -- Steve Cishek is flirting with Rays royalty: Joe Borowski.

Tampa Bay fans will remember the summer of 2005 when Borowski joined the team and proceeded to post 20 scoreless appearances from July 15-Aug. 28, which still holds the top spot for longest streak of scoreless appearances at the start of his Rays career. And now Cishek is breathing the same exaulted air.

View Full Game Coverage

All Cishek has done is post zeros since joining the team via a trade with the Mariners. In Wednesday night's 5-3 win over the Royals, the right-hander entered the game in the sixth with a runner on first and none out. He proceeded to strike out Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez before retiring Mike Moustakas on a line out to center field.

Video: TB@KC: Cishek strikes out Hosmer in the 6th inning

Cishek returned to pitch the seventh and set the Royals down in order to complete 15 consecutive appearances without allowing a run since joining the Rays.

"Steve Cishek, probably the MVP of the game," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Coming in and closing the door, then going out and getting another three outs."

Since May 21, Cishek has a 1.05 ERA (34 1/3 innings, four earned runs) in 36 appearances with the Mariners and Rays, the lowest ERA in the Major Leagues over that span (minimum of 25 innings).

"Even before I was traded, I started getting a feel for my stuff again," said Cishek, who began the season on the disabled list while recovering from a left hip labrum tear. "... It finally came back. I just got on a roll. And I'm getting good extension on my fastball and my offspeed pitches. I've just been trying to keep it simple and just attack with whatever I have that day. And so far, I've felt pretty good every time I've been out there."

Cash gushed when asked what Cishek is doing that's helping him be successful.

"He's sinking it, he's throwing sliders, he changes eye levels just enough," Cash said. "Everybody knows he's a ground-ball pitcher. He comes in there, he's got some deception with his delivery. He's down, down, down, and when he needs to run a ball up letter high, he's kind of set the tone with his other pitches that allows a lot of swings on some of those."

Cash noted the Rays have several guys in the bullpen who have closing experience, with Cishek being one of them, and the skipper complimented them for buying in to the group effort.

Cishek said, "It's whatever it takes."

"I think when I entered the game in the fourth [Friday against the Cardinals], so I got loose in the third," Cishek said. "I've never done that before and I was fired up, like it's the eighth or ninth inning.

Today [starter Jake Odorizzi] was pitching great so I was kind of laying low. Then, when the fifth inning came around, I started perking up a little bit. All of us are going to do whatever it takes to win these ballgames. That's what it comes down to."

Borowski beware.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays, Steve Cishek