If the Tampa Bay Rays could play 11 innings every day, they might be unstoppable.
The Rays won in 11 innings for the third straight game Saturday, defeating the Boston Red Sox 5-4 on Nate Lowe’s two-run homer. The teams will continue their four-game series Sunday at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-7 on Wednesday on the road and defeated Boston 5-4 at home Friday night.
“A lot of guys are doing some big, big things for us,” Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters after the game. “But the way we’re playing, the other teams are playing, we’ve just got to find ways. And the guys, give them a lot of credit. They certainly do that.”
Saturday’s win gave the Rays a one-game lead on the Cleveland Indians for the American League’s second and final wild-card playoff berth. The Indians lost 9-4 to visiting Philadelphia in an interleague game.
Willy Adames also homered for the Rays, who are getting closer to full health.
The Rays got Yonny Chirinos back Saturday, after the right-hander had been out since Aug. 5 with right middle finger inflammation. That comes after the recent return of starting pitchers Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner.
“I’m very happy to be able to be back with the team,” Chirinos told MLB.com. “Now just try and take full advantage of the opportunity to help the team win.”
Chirinos was used as a reliever in his return, replacing Glasnow in the fourth inning. Chirinos allowed a leadoff homer to Xander Bogaerts before retiring the next three batters.
“We’re excited to have him back,” Cash said. “He’s a little different than Blake (Snell) and Tyler (Glasnow) in the fact that I think it’s fair to assume that we’re not going to be able to stretch him out to what he was.”
Chirinos has started in 17 of his 24 appearances this season and is 9-5 with a 3.67 ERA.
“I feel good in both roles, and I have a lot of confidence,” Chirinos said. “Right now we’re thinking about making the playoffs, and that’s the only goal.”
The Rays are scheduled to start left-hander Ryan Yarbrough (11-4, 3.78 ERA) on Sunday against Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 6.19). Yarbrough is 3-0 with a 3.66 ERA in eight career appearances against the Red Sox, including two starts; Eovaldi is 1-4 with a 5.64 ERA in seven appearances against Tampa Bay, with five starts.
The defending World Series champion Red Sox were eliminated from postseason contention Friday, meaning no team has repeated since the 2000 New York Yankees.
“It’s not easy, man. We talk about hangover or whatever. The grind of going through the whole thing is gratifying,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told the media. “We were talking about it yesterday. We only lost 57 games last year as a group. We were locked in mentally. And then the offseason becomes short.
“Sometimes, it’s great. Give me the short offseason the whole time. As far as preparation and all that, you’re in a rush. I do feel that going into the season, you prepare the right way, you do everything possible, but that first month is very important. You have a target (on your back). We talk about it.”
–Field Level Media