OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays believe in their potent offense, and manager Kevin Cash can’t wait for his club to start consistently slugging.
A solid win to start a nine-game trip sure provided a glimpse of how things can go when everyone in the lineup gets involved.
Yandy Díaz led off the game with a home run to back right-hander Drew Rassmussen’s second straight winning start, and the Rays used a balanced offense to beat the Oakland Athletics 6-1 on Monday night.
“We’ve got an offense that we expect a lot of big things from this year,” Cash said. “Even though with key guys out we’ve still got some key guys in there and would expect that it’s going to be a very deep, thick lineup that can wear pitching down, and I felt like we kind of did that tonight.”
Wander Franco returned to the lineup and hit a pair of run-scoring singles after a precautionary day off Sunday to nurse his tender right leg.
Franco and Randy Arozarena hit consecutive RBI singles in the third against Daulton Jefferies (1-4), and Mike Zunino’s base hit the next inning brought in another Rays run.
Manuel Margot added an RBI double in the fifth among his three hits as the Rays tagged Jefferies for career highs of 11 hits and six runs.
“It’s a good-hitting ballclub. Rasmussen pitched really well tonight, too, so when you have that balance it works out,” Jefferies said. “… It’s just execution and the balance between attacking and executing.”
Cash has been eager to see more hitters get going at the plate and Tampa Bay capitalized with contributions from up and down the order to kick off a nine-game trip. The Rays improved to 3-5 in series openers this season with their first such victory on the road in three tries.
Rasmussen (2-1) allowed one run and one hit, struck out three and walked one…