Unbeaten Rays making some early history with dominant start


The Tampa Bay Rays are on such a roll, the only question is which of their stats is most impressive.

They’re the first team to start 9-0 since the 2003 Kansas City Royals. They’ve scored the most runs in baseball (75) and allowed the fewest (18).

They’ve won every game by at least four runs. The last team to win this many in a row by at least four – at any point in the season – was the 1939 New York Yankees, who did it for 10 straight games.

And here’s another tidbit, thanks to the win probability stats at Baseball Savant: There’s only been one game during this streak in which Tampa Bay’s win probability has been below 30% at any time.

That was Tuesday, when Washington led the Rays 6-4 after seven innings and was still ahead 6-5 before Tampa Bay scored five runs in the ninth to win 10-6. The Rays have only trailed in one other game – they were down 1-0 in the second Friday when they scored six runs in the bottom of the inning on their way to a 9-5 win over Oakland.

There is a chicken-and-egg question surrounding Tampa Bay’s streak. The Rays have done it all against Detroit, Washington and Oakland, three teams who combined to lose 305 games last year and are expected to be pretty poor this season as well. Is Tampa Bay this good or are those other teams that bad?

The answer to that will come soon enough, but right now the Rays can enjoy a dominant stretch to start the season.

BIG SETBACK

The Pittsburgh Pirates lost talented young shortstop Oneil Cruz to a fractured ankle Sunday when he was injured sliding into home.

That was a huge downer for a Pittsburgh team that is actually off to a promising start. The Pirates beat the White Sox 1-0 for their fifth win in six games. They’re 6-3 and just a game out of first place in the NL Central.

Bryan Reynolds, still with Pittsburgh after requesting a trade in the offseason, is hitting .405 and already has five homers.

TRIVIA TIME

The Milwaukee Brewers tied a record with 13 straight wins at the start of the 1987 season. Later that year, a Milwaukee player went on the American League’s longest hitting streak since Joe DiMaggio’s 56-gamer in 1941. Who was the player and how long was the streak?

LINE OF THE WEEK

This week’s honor goes to a minor league team. The Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts somehow finished a seven-inning game with the following line Saturday: seven runs, no hits and no errors.

The Lookouts – an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds – beat the Rocket City Trash Pandas 7-5 in the first game of a doubleheader. They scored all seven runs in the top of the seventh without the benefit of a hit – when Rocket City pitchers walked five, hit four batters and threw a run-scoring wild pitch. A dropped fly ball with the bases loaded also played a crucial role.

COMEBACK OF THE WEEK

The Blue Jays and Angels played a wild one Sunday in which both teams blew big leads. Los Angeles had a win probability of 98.3% in the fifth inning while ahead 6-0, but Toronto rallied to take a 10-6 advantage in the seventh. The Angels tied it in the ninth on Hunter Renfroe’s two-out, two-run double.

Toronto eventually won 12-11 in 10 innings. Shohei Ohtani grounded out with the bases loaded to end the game.

TRIVIA ANSWER

Paul Molitor hit safely in 39 consecutive games in 1987, the same season as the Brewers’ 13-0 start. Despite all that, Milwaukee had to settle for a third-place finish in the AL East with a 91-71 record.

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Follow Noah Trister at www.twitter.com/noahtrister

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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