ST. PETERSBURG — The last time the Rays and Dodgers shared the same field, Los Angeles was celebrating its first World Series championship since 1988 at Globe Life Field in Arlington.
They have been the two best-performing clubs in baseball since the start of this shortened season, with the Dodgers going 291-145 over the past three years and the Rays just behind them at 264-173. Both clubs are once again among the Majors’ best this season, but Tampa Bay stands out thanks to the dynamic roster that scored early and often to deliver a 9-3 victory Friday night at Tropicana Field.
“I’ve always said this team is capable of anything,” said centre-back Jose Siri through interpreter Manny Navarro. “We have the home runs. We can run. We play defense. We are capable of doing anything.
The Rays scored in a variety of ways in Friday’s win, befitting a team that leads the Majors in home runs and stolen bases by considerable margins.
They used their speed and base-running acumen to steal four bases against the Dodgers, and they showed their power with two homers: one by lead-off Yandy Díaz and the other by the No. 9, Siri.
“They’re hitting. They’re taking 90 feet near stolen base. The first part of the equation is trying to keep those guys off the bases,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the game. aggressive. They do a good job using their roster and maxing out skills. “
The Rays also had to make the most of nearly every available pitcher 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 fly-half Jalen Beeks and right-hander Cooper Criswell, who earned his first big league victory (and a celebratory beer shower) with four one-run innings after hitting awarded five points to the brewers. the last time.
“A complete team effort,” Criswell said.
The Rays allowed nine hits, six walks and one hit, but they limited the Dodgers to three hits in 14 at-bats with runners in the scoring position and blocked 11. They turned two key double plays . Relievers Jake Diekman, Colin Poche and Jason Adam only recorded one each, but they all defused potential rallies, and Pete Fairbanks threw a perfect ninth.
“They did a good job. They needed it,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “LA has a lot of guys on base. I felt like when we needed a big pitch, it seemed to happen to us quite frequently.
The Rays’ formation also gave the pitching staff plenty of room to work.
In the first inning, Díaz doubled up Dodgers starter Noah Syndergaard — extending his on-base streak to 20 games — and moved to third base when Wander Franco batted an infield single that didn’t go past first. base. Brandon Lowe delivered a scoring groundout, then Josh Lowe hit an RBI single to center field.
Tampa Bay tacked on two more runs in the second on scored outs, a pitch from Díaz and a sacrifice fly from Franco, to make it a 4-1 game.
Taylor Walls hit a two-out single to center in the third then stole the second and third, putting himself in position to score on a left single from Christian Bethancourt, who went 3 for 4 with two doubles and two runs scored .
“Everyone is just doing their part,” Díaz said through Navarro. “Everyone just does little things, then when everyone does little things, it turns into something big.”
After sitting out the last three games while tending to a family business, Díaz provided the power in the fourth inning by sending a commanding shot to left field for his team-leading 12th homer.
“I didn’t think he was going to forget how to hit,” Cash said, “so I was right.”
The Rays added to their lead in the seventh. Franco reached prime field from the defender, stole the second — the Rays’ fourth steal of the game and Franco’s 18th of the year — and scored on Brandon Lowe’s hard-hit single on the right. Then Siri broke a two-run homer in the eighth, giving him nine home runs and a .905 OPS.
“He is preparing a special season. He does a lot of good things for us, making adjustments from game to game, making adjustments from stick to stick,” Cash said. “I’m so happy with how he handled it.”