The Rays are playing for a lot as they head into the final month of the season. Most important, beyond the usual individual milestones and contract boosts, is an entry, even if it's as the second wild card, into the American League playoffs field. But one thing not in play — nor in question — is the status of manager Kevin Cash. Even if the team falls short of making the playoffs, Cash will not take the fall and — despite the possibility of a third straight losing season — will return for his fourth year. "Kevin is incredibly consistent with his energy, authenticity and the way that he guides this team," general manager Erik Neander said. "We've had good stretches and some tough stretches, but through it all our players and staff have followed his lead and have showed up every day well prepared to compete and to make the most of their abilities. "There are things that we can all do to help this organization improve, and that certainly applies to the front office. But he's doing the most critical part of his job, and one that tends to be less visible to the public, very well." When the Rays hired Cash as a 36-year-old with no managerial experience to replace the celebrated Joe Maddon following his contentious October 2014 departure, they envisioned Cash having an extended stay. That was evidenced when they gave an extraordinarily long contract for a first-timer, five years (for about $5 million) plus two options. The results — 214-243 (.468) going into Tuesday's late game against the Royals — have obviously done nothing to dent their confidence in him.