“Manufactured runs on the bases”: Pitching and stolen bases highlight the Rays’ victory over the Blue Jays

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Seven was the magic number for the Tampa Bay Rays Thursday afternoon as they wrapped up their series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Rays stole seven bases en route to a 6-3 win, while starting pitcher Zach Eflin went seven innings and picked up his seventh win of the season. It also marked the Rays’ 37th Victory to lead Major League Baseball.

In terms of stolen bases, this was the second time this season the Rays had that many bases in a game. No other team in the league has done that once in a game in 2023. With seven stolen bases from Thursday’s game, the Rays now have 62 as a team this season, another MLB all-time high.

“We made some runs on the bases,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We didn’t have a lot of hits today, but we had a lot of guys who came on base with hits and walks, but you get on base. Sometimes it takes a little effort and I think the guys did it. Lots of heads up base running plays.”

Eflin’s seven-inning performance marked the day the Rays’ starter got so deep in the game. Shane McClanahan made it in Wednesday’s win. What made his performance unique to Eflin was that he got the job done – giving up just one run and six hits – while not scoring any strikeouts against the 28 batters he faced.

“I don’t know if that’s ever happened to me in my career,” Eflin said of his unusual outing. “I honestly think it’s pretty impressive to go seven innings without a shot. I think that’s harder than seven innings and ten strikeouts. But it’s just one of those days that I’ve been praying that they’d go for doubles games and just make contact early on.”

“I don’t think he’s looking for strikeouts,” Cash said. “At certain points in the game he might change his approach a bit to get the strikeout, but maybe that wasn’t necessary today for some reason. He just wanted to keep pitching and giving our infielders some nice plays and the outfielders some nice plays.”

Eflin is now (7-1) in nine starts this season and second in team wins, behind only McClanahan, who leads the majors with eight wins.

Next up for the Rays is a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which pits two of the best teams in the league against one another. Cash said Jalen Beeks is expected to fill in for her in Friday’s series opener.

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