street. Petersburg – Remember this. Remember this now while the joy is fresh and the memories are clear. Remember this before injuries, better competition and the fact baseball ruins the vibe.
You’ve never seen anything quite like what the Rays did in the first nine games of the season. I know this is true because Major League Baseball has never seen anything quite like what the Rays did.
It’s not just that Tampa Bay is the first team in 20 years to open a season with nine straight wins. It’s how the Rays won. certainly. noisily. Entertainingly.
Each of the 12 teams prior to starting the season 9-0 had close calls along the way. Six of them had bonus games. Eleven of them were playing at once. None were close to the average winning margin of 6.3 runs per game.
“Unbelievable,” said starting pitcher Drew Rasmussen.
The Rays hit 24 home runs and scored 75 runs. None of those other teams came close to matching that. Sunshine allowed 18 points to score. Only two of those other teams managed to do better. It’s not one thing. It’s all.
“It’s crazy,” said reliever Jason Adam.
Even if you dismiss the oddity of Tampa Bay doing it during the first two weeks of the regular season, it’s still not normal for a hit-and-running streak. It has been 84 years since a team won nine straight games by four or more home runs at any point in the season.
“Everything clicks,” said manager Kevin Cash.
Look, everyone in the club knows this isn’t sustainable. Everyone knows that the table-makers deserve to be helped to deliver a nine-game winning streak against Detroit, Washington and Oakland. But everyone out there also knows that there is a unique blend of skill and depth in this Rays roster.
“When you’re rolling as a team, you just have to keep it going. Don’t doubt anything,” said second baseman Brandon Lowe, who has had four walks, three hits, six runs and eight home runs in his last nine games.
“You just show up and take care of business. It feels like we’re playing our game. That’s exactly what we thought would happen when we got everyone healthy.”
I figured this will happen?
“We knew we were going to be good,” he said.
Yes, the rays are good. It might be great, though we’re a long way from telling that.
The point is, there are exceptional teams in every sport every season, but the Rays are also overly entertaining. They can, of course, hit and hit. But they also play great defense. And they are brave about the rules. But they are also young, energetic, and they value the opportunities they have.
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By now, you may have seen or heard of Harold Ramirez’s rant in Sunday’s 11-0 win over Oakland. On a routine ground ball in the fourth inning, Ramirez busted it out from the first base line for one out when third baseman Jess Peterson took an extra hit to look at the runner who would go to second.
Two outs later, Christian Bethancourt hit a short birdie that looked like a finishing push. Except first base coach Chris Prieto told Ramirez to get a lead that was too long because Oakland wasn’t holding it, and Ramirez walked the Huskies back on base before throwing the ball.
Moments later, Lowe hit a grand slam. It was four overtime runs because Ramírez refused to give up.
“We all play for each other, and I think that’s what makes this team so good,” said first baseman Luke Raleigh. “We blew that game open with a B-Lowe grand slam, but it never happens without Harold’s rant. That’s how we’re going to play. We’ve got a bunch of guys willing to work hard for the guy behind them. So I wouldn’t say we’re bummed. Our team.” (Promoting) is good, our rackets are going, we’ve got a good team.”
But isn’t it crazy to beat three different opponents by a combined score of 75-18?
“Yeah, that’s crazy. So let’s keep it that way,” Raleigh said.
For the record, the Rays have a combined slugging percentage of .588 and an on-base percentage of .374. The starting rotation has an ERA of 1.90 with 60 strikeouts in 52 innings pitched.
The only area on the team that is not seriously tested is the bullpen. This is the way it goes when you tie or lead 93.9 percent of the innings you’ve played. The Rays are the only undefeated team in the major leagues, but, paradoxically, they are the only undefeated team.
So who will get Tampa Bay’s first save opportunity in 2023?
“I think it will be[Fairbanks]house,” said Adam. “But it’s like he’s on vacation.”
John Romano can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @romano_tbtimes.
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