That brought their current win streak to seven games, and they’ve now won 14 of their past 17. All-Star Ben Zobrist got the game-winning hit, scoring Yunel Escobar, but he wasn’t the only hero. Trailing 3-1 in the sixth inning, Kelly Johnson worked a count in his favor before depositing the ball into the seats at Tropicana Field for a game-tying two-run homer. Finally back in the starting lineup, this marked the second straight day he delivered in the clutch.
Not to be forgotten, the pitching staff was also superb, setting a home record of 19 strikeouts. It all began with Jeremy Hellickson who, after starting the season horribly, has seemed to settle in. He worked six innings of three-run baseball Wednesday before giving way to a bullpen that seems to have finally found their groove as well.
Actually, since June 29, a span of 11 days, Rays pitchers have allowed three runs or less nine times. That’s outstanding, no matter how you choose to look at it.
Of course, everyone expected the pitching to come around. The offense, on the other hand, was a completely different story. After doing practically nothing in April, their hitting has improved. If you need proof, just look at the roster. No one is batting under .200, and everyone but Sam Fuld and recent call-up Wil Myers has an on-base percentage above .300.
Going forward, the Rays need to keep playing the way they have been recently. Because if they do, there’s little doubt in my mind they’ll be participating in October baseball.