With MLB-best homer total, Rays 'taking off'

With MLB-best homer total, Rays 'taking off'

TORONTO -- Excelling at pitching and defense has long been the Rays' strength, and both facets of the game were sharp during the team's three-game sweep of the Blue Jays, capped with Wednesday night's 6-3 win at Rogers Centre. But it was the offense that could do no wrong north of the border.

"It has gotten a little contagious the last three days, as far as the offense," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

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Yes, if you're a Rays fan, watching the offense the past three nights has been nothing short of delightful.

In their last three games, the Rays collected 44 hits, recorded 20 extra-base hits, collected 81 total bases and compiled a plus-24 run differential -- each total establishing a team record for a three-game series.

Recap: TB 13, TOR 2

The Rays also hit three home runs on Wednesday night, giving them a Major League-leading 58 on the season.

On top of that, the Rays scored 31 runs in the series, the most they've scored during a three-game road series in their history. They went 12-for-36 (.333) with runners in scoring position.

Recap: TB 12, TOR 2

"Probably the most important things is we've done a good job with runners in scoring position," hitting coach Derek Shelton said. "We got some two-out hits [Tuesday] night. The funny thing is, you hit some balls that find holes."

Kevin Kiermaier, who slugged a two-run homer on Wednesday night to extend his hitting streak to seven games, noted: "I just feel like we're a lot more relaxed in the box and not pressing as much.

Kiermaier hits home run to right

"Right now, we've been swinging the bats great. We just have to keep the same approach, what we do with our pregame routine ... because we can be a dangerous ballclub if we can keep going like this."

Obviously, scoring 10 runs a game is not sustainable for any Major League team, but this year's unit might just be talented enough to start changing the image of the Rays' oft-maligned offense.

"I don't think 12 runs a game is going to be [possible]," said Logan Morrison, who had three hits on Wednesday night, including his first home run of the season. "But I don't want to put a limit on the number of runs we're going to score a game.

"It's just going to depend on a couple of key pitches. If we win those pitches, get the job done, [we'll succeed], whether we're moving them or scoring them, whatever it might be. Continuing to do the little things, yeah, I see our offense taking off."

Shelton took a realistic look at the offense.

"I think it's getting better," Shelton said. "We had a couple of guys get off to slow starts, and we've seen them take better swings lately, being more indicative of what they are. But I think we're still a work in process.

"I think we're going to see swings [in production] because we hit the ball out of the ballpark and we miss a little bit. But I think we're definitely seeing a better approach, a more consistent approach."

Shelton did allow that the past three nights have been fun.

Who can blame him?

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.