St. Petersburg, Fla – The Tampa Bay Rays secured the top record in the American League earlier in the day when the Oakland Athletics were defeated by the Seattle Mariners in the first game of their twin bill.
“Its awesome [getting the top seed], it’s exciting, I’m happy for the guys.” Manager Kevin Cash said. “The big day was playing the Mets to get the division but we’ll take every accolade, announcement, it’s something. Just another step for the guys to appreciate what they’ve accomplished this season.”
Saturday night the Rays defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 to improve to 39-20 on the season. Pete Fairbanks (6-3, 2.70 ERA) picks up the win and Aaron Slegers worked the final three innings to pick up the save, his second on the year.
It was Tampa Bay’s 20th come from behind win and they improve to 14-5 in one run games. With the win they improve to 6-0-4 in series play at Tropicana Field in 2020.
Zack Wheeler (4-2, 2.92 ERA) takes the loss for Philadelphia who fall to 28-31 and 9-19 on the road.
John Curtiss opened the game for Tampa Bay and allowed a run on an infield single to Jean Segura. Yoshi Tsutsugo fielded the ball at third but his throw went off Nate Lowe‘s glove at first allowing Andrew McCutchen to scamper all the way from second to score the games first run.
Ryan Yarbrough took over for Curtiss and got the last out in the first and remained in the game through the fourth inning. He threw 3.1-innings of scoreless relief allowing just three hits while striking out four and walking none. He threw just 43 pitches with 27 for strikes.
He was aided by a strong throw from Kevin Kiermaier to nail Andrew McCutchen trying to score from second on a 2-out hit by J.T. Realmuto in the third inning. McCutchen had lead off the inning with what looked to be an apparent triple but Kevin Kiermaier complained that the ball got stuck under the wall in center and under review it was ruled a ground rule double.
“KK had an unbelievable play to help me out there that inning so that was incredible.” Ryan Yarbrough said. “That’s nothing new for him. That’s kind of his every day thing now which is just crazy to think about.”
It was Kiermaier’s sixth assist this season leading many to wonder why teams still run on him. “It blows my mind every time that he just makes these unbelievable plays.” Yarbrough said. “From my point of view I thought ‘o.k., there’s a run right there’ and he just comes up firing and it was bang bang…I had a front row seat of it right there.”
Pete Fairbanks entered the game in the 5th inning with the score tied 1-1. He allowed a solo homer to Andrew McCutchen to give the Phillies the 2-1 lead. It was just the second home run allowed by Fairbanks in 2020 spanning 26.2 innings of work. It was McCutchen’s 10th homer on the season.
Tampa Bay took their first lead of the game scoring three runs with 2-out in the bottom of the fifth. Mike Zunino singled in Manuel Margot who had doubled with one out. It was Zunino’s first RBI since August 20th against the New York Yankees.
Diego Castillo worked a scoreless sixth inning and turned the ball over to Aaron Slegers.
The Phillies cut the led to 4-3 after three consecutive singles to open the inning. Slegers got JT Realmuto to ground into a double play and struck out Jean Segura to end the seventh inning threat.
Slegers remained in the game to pick up his second save on the season.
Tampa Bay secured the first seed in the American League when the Oakland Athletics dropped the first game of their doubleheader with the Seattle Mariners.
The Rays will play either the Toronto Blue Jays or the New York Yankees in a three game series beginning Tuesday at Tropicana Field. They won’t know which team they’ll play until tomorrow’s action.
“That’s happened before, certainly this experience is different.” Kevin Cash said. “We’ll be scoreboard watching to figure it out.”
Of course, either opponent will be very familiar to Tampa Bay. “I don’t know how much that is a benefit,” Cash said. “Either one of those teams also know us very well.”
Kevin Cash made it official on Saturday naming Blake Snell as the teams game one starter on Tuesday. Snell will be followed by Tyler Glasnow and if a third game is necessary Charlie Morton will get the nod.