Joe is back with his postgame thoughts….

The Rays needed a punching-bag game like this today, where they could hammer out a huge lead, get everyone involved (18 hits) and cruise back to St. Pete with a much-needed split in Toronto and more confidence.

As expected, a 9-zip lead in the fourth inning was no problem for David Price and the best bullpen in baseball.

The return of Karlos Pena brought a different hitter, 2-for-3 with a couple of walks and a homer. Maybe that’s all Pena needed, extended time off. Even Reid Brignac got in the game and showcased why the Rays’ demoted him months ago.

But frankly, Joe was most soothed by seeing Evan Longoria snap his modest two-game hitless streak with a couple of doubles. It will be a brutal task to get in the playoffs without him carrying a heavier load. The Rays’ competition is going wild across the American League. Oakland (eight straight) and the Angels (five straight) are tearing it up. Thankfully, they play each other seven more times. Baltimore and Detroit won’t go away.

There’s going to be strong playoff buzz at the Trop tomorrow for the Yankees. It’s the best time of year. Screw the beach and get out there if you can.

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