Defense sparkles even with game in hand

Defense sparkles even with game in hand

ST. PETERSBURG -- What happened in the ninth inning of Saturday night's 9-3 win over the Blue Jays put an exclamation point on the kind of baseball the Rays are playing these days.

Jose Bautista began the Blue Jays' ninth by hitting a ball to Evan Longoria's left. The Rays third baseman dove, picked the ball and threw to first for the out. Later, with two outs, Travis Snider hit a sinking liner to the gap in left-center field. At this point, Tampa Bay held a six-run lead. But enter Crawford, who did what he seems to do at least once a game, diving to his left to rob the base hit and end the game.

Mike Ekstrom pitched the ninth for the Rays and was the beneficiary of the glove work by Longoria and Crawford.

"It was great to watch. They play just as hard if it's a tie game or if it's a blowout and we're just mopping up the innings," Ekstrom said. "Two diving plays, outing over, it was great."

Eckstrom then allowed himself a smile: "I'm just a web gem enabler."