AL WILD CARD GAME
Oct. 3, 2019
Tampa Bay – 5, Oakland – 1
Q. Kevin, pretty remarkable, even yesterday you didn’t know if Yandy was going to play. He hops out of bed and can slug it, and he showed you he can do that?
KEVIN CASH: He did. I don’t know if we expected that type of performance. I said to Buster, in the third inning, he’s made us look a lot smarter than we really are by getting them back in the lineup. He was a presence, especially against left-handed pitching. Got us off to a good start with the home run.
This crowd, this stadium was impressive. To get a lead, that somewhat calmed it. I don’t know if it totally calmed it, but he was a big part of that.
Q. Of course you have to go on a plane and head to Houston. Does this give you guys pretty good momentum going into a series like that after beating a team like the A’s?
KEVIN CASH: Definitely. They’re a tremendous ballclub. They’re ran the right way from the front office that we know of. I couldn’t think higher of Bob Melvin and what that staff does. We’ve talked about the mirroring and everything, but they’ve got a bunch of good players. We’re fortunate to be able to win.
As far as momentum goes, we’ve had to create some momentum here in the last 15 games of the regular season because of the pressure that the A’s and the Indians put on us. We’ve been on a nice roll here lately.
Q. You guys had history of digging up kind of underrated players, guys who maybe not that many people know about and turn them into a productive member of the Rays. What goes into that?
KEVIN CASH: Look, we’re fortunate, we have really smart people that can evaluate talent. And I agree with you, we’ve kind of prided ourselves, this organization, for many years, on maybe finding the players that have fallen through the cracks a little bit.
And we’ve got a handful of them on the roster right now that are main pieces to what we’re trying to accomplish. Ton of credit goes to the front office for recognizing that. It’s easy to turn away on a guy, a young player that doesn’t come out of the gate on fire, but does some special things under the surface. And I think we’ve got a bunch of those guys that do that.
Q. What can you say about what Charlie did getting through the first inning and then settling in?
KEVIN CASH: When the first inning ended, I kind of said to myself, we were fortunate to have Charlie Morton on the mound. We get the 1-0 lead. A young pitcher in that situation, that environment, you just wonder how he’s going to be able to handle that.
But Charlie, been there, done that, his veteran, his experience, I think allowed that. And I would still say, I don’t think Charlie was at his best today, but he certainly made his best pitches when they counted the most.
Q. Before the game Kevin was up here and Austin, and they spoke a little bit about how much this means. You guys have the lowest payroll in baseball, and what this means for your franchise, just showing what you can do in an unorthodox way?
KEVIN CASH: I try to take those things out of it. I’m fortunate to get to work with the people I work with. We’ve got a job to do: Go win games. Doesn’t matter what the payroll is. Find a way to win games, and credit those players for taking that same mentality for 162 games.
Q. I’m sure it was tough to use Ji-Man, some other lefties out of the lineup, how impressive is it you can mix and match, throw in a bunch of righties, and those guys seem to perform all the time?
KEVIN CASH: That’s how our lineup is built. There are certain lineups you run seven, eight guys out there, eight, nine guys out there, and that’s what you’ve got. We’re not built that way.
The reason we were successful this year is by being versatile. We use the phrase buy in quite a bit. It’s tough, because Ji-Man Choi means a lot to our club, and not to be in the starting lineup, players can perceive that as us not wanting them to play. That’s not the case. We’re going to utilize every matchup we can to put in our advantage.
Q. Following up with the previous question, what was it you guys saw about Yandy to trade for him? Did you kind of foresee that he could turn into a guy with some pop?
KEVIN CASH: Yeah, our guys — I remember those discussions that took place at the Winter Meetings. We gave up a good player in Jake Bauers, a young player.
I think the thing that stood out the most with Yandy is how hard he hit the baseball. In the air, on the ground, he hits it as hard as anybody in baseball, and he does it at a consistent clip.
We have not said one thing to him about hitting the ball in the air, any of that. We took the approach of let him be, give him consistent reps. He hasn’t had those because of the injury. But before the injury, he was getting consistent reps, and let the player figure it out a little bit.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports