street. PETERSBURG – The last time the Rays and Dodgers were on the same field, Los Angeles was celebrating its first World Series since 1988 at Globe Life Field in Arlington.
They have been the two most consistently successful clubs in baseball since the start of that shortened season, with the Dodgers going 291-145 over the past three years and the Rays right behind them at 264-173. Both clubs are again among the best in the majors this season, but Tampa Bay sets itself apart for its dynamic lineup that scored early and often to a 9-3 victory Friday night at Tropicana Field.
“I always said that this team is capable of anything,” said midfielder Jose Serri through translator Manny Navarro. “We have home runs. We can run. We play defense. We can do everything.”
The Rays scored a variety of runs in Friday’s victory, befitting a team that leads the majors in both home runs and stolen bases by large margins.
They used their superior speed and acumen to steal four bases against the Dodgers, and showed their mettle with two homers: one by leading man Yandy Diaz and the other by Series 9 batsman.
“They’re taking 90 feet off the stolen base,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the game. “The first part of the equation is trying to get these guys off the bases.” aggressive. They do a good job using their roster and maximizing skill sets.”
The Rays also had to make the most of nearly every pitcher available Friday night as they improved to 25-5 at Tropicana Field and 38-15 overall this season.
They sent eight pitchers to the mound, starting with opener Jalen Beeks and loose innings Cooper Cresswell, who got his first major league win (and celebratory beer celebration) with four innings from one-run ball after allowing five runs to the Brewers last.
“An all-out team effort,” Cresswell said.
The Rays allowed nine hits, six walks and one batter, but held the Dodgers to three hits in 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position and stranded 11. They ran two key double plays. Relievers Jake Dickman, Colin Butch, and Jason Adam only scored one of each, but they all defused potential rallies, and Pete Fairbanks fielded a perfect ninth.
“They did a good job. Los Angeles has a lot of guys on base,” said Kevin Cash, manager of the Rays. I felt, when we needed a big pitch, it seemed to happen to us a lot.”
The Rays lineup also gave the planners plenty of room to work with.
In the first inning, Dodgers outfielder Noah Syndergaard’s Diaz doubled—extending his streak on base to 20 games—and moved to third base when Wander Franco hit a leadoff single that didn’t go past first base. Brandon Lowe lead off a run, then Josh Lowe hit an RBI single to center field.
Tampa Bay hit two more runs in the second on a scoring run, a Diaz ground pass and a sacrifice bunt by Franco, to make it a 4–1 game.
Taylor Walls hit two singles on third and then stole second and third, putting himself in position to score on a single from left by Christian Bethancourt, who finished 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored.
“Everyone is just doing their part,” Diaz said through Navarro. “Everyone just does the little things, and then when everyone does the little things, it turns into something big.”
After sitting out the past three games while he tended to family matters, Diaz provided the power in the fourth inning by fielding a towering left field shot for a leadoff homer on his 12th.
“I didn’t think he’d forget how to hit, so I was right,” said Cash.
Ray added to their lead in the seventh. Franco reached on a defenseman of the player’s choice, stole second—the Rays’ fourth steal of the game and Franco’s 18th—and scored on Brandon Lowe’s single, which was hit by a hard hitting right. Then Seery smashed a two-run homer in the eighth, giving him nine homers and a 905 OPS.
“It’s such a special season. He’s doing a lot of good things for us, making adjustments from game to game, making adjustments from bat to hit,” Cash said. “Just very happy with the way it went.”
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