Rays 8/31/15 Starting Lineup, Etc

Now we know where Giancarlo Stanton got his style tips.

Now we know where Giancarlo Stanton got his style tips.

Rays 8/31/15 Starting Lineup

Guyer RF
Butler LF
Longoria 3B
Forsythe 2B
Cabrera SS
Beckham DH
Loney 1B
Kiermaier CF
Rivera C
Archer RHP

Noteworthiness

— The Rays have played 75 games decided by one or two runs (tied with the Mariners for most in the majors). Tampa Bay is 39-36.

— Haven’t read our Rays/Orioles series preview? Fix that here and now!

While you’re at it, be sure to pre-order our newest shirt design.

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The New What Next: Rays vs. Orioles, Part Five — A Series Preview

Kevin Kiermaier is doused with ice by Chris Archer to celebrate a 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

Kevin Kiermaier is doused with ice by Chris Archer to celebrate a 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

Momentum: The driving force or advancing strength of a development or course of events. I’d add an alternate definition for momentum — something the Tampa Bay Rays found hard to accrue in their most recent home stand. Despite the golden opportunity they were handed to leapfrog the Minnesota Twins in the Wildcard standings, and a chance to gather a full head of steam against the Kansas City Royals, the Rays settled for two wins instead. Ouch. Momentum: something the Rays desperately needed to accrue ahead of their trip into Baltimore, where they’ll start a three-game set against the Orioles on Monday. And while the action on field felt rather uninspired and blasé this week, Tampa Bay still has a chance to play relevant baseball in September.

Where the Rays have been mediocre of late, the Orioles have been flat out abysmal. Once ahead of Tampa Bay, both in the AL East and in the Wildcard standings, Baltimore has dropped 11 of its last 15 games. The Orioles are coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Rangers, and now find themselves a game  back of the good guys.

This is a must win series if Tampa Bay wants to open a little breathing room in the race. Still it may be easier said than done — the Rays are 5-7 against the Orioles in 2015. Then again, the last time they were in the Charm City, Tampa Bay mashed its share of home runs and took 2-of-3. Additionally, the Orioles are have averaged 3.2 runs per game and a .208 batting average in the season series with the Rays.

Kevin Cash with throw Chris Archer (11-10, 2.88 ERA), Drew Smyly (1-2, 3.88 ERA), and Erasmo Ramirez (10-5, 3.68 ERA) over the next three games. Buck Showalter will counter with Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman, and Kevin Gausman. Archer fanned 12 but surrendered nine hits, four earned runs and a walk in six-plus innings on Wednesday. Smyly allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits and a pair of walks in just 4-1/3 innings against the Twins on Thursday, receiving no decision in an eventual 5-4 win. On the bright side, he struck out five, but this was still a rough outing for Smyly. Ramirez allowed two earned runs on six hits in 4-1/3 innings against the Royals on Friday — an uncharacteristic outing for him, as he’s yielded one earned run or fewer in 12-of-21 starts.

Rays and Orioles series starters over the last 14 days.

Rays and Orioles series starters over the last 14 days.

Rays and Orioles offensive production over the last 14 days.

Rays and Orioles offensive production over the last 14 days.

Rays and Orioles by the numbers.

Rays and Orioles by the numbers.

Wei-Yin Chen (8-6, 3.17 ERA): Chen ended his streak of quality starts on Wednesday after he allowed three runs on 10 hits and a walk in 6-1/3 innings against the Royals. Be that as it may, Chen has allowed three runs or fewer in nine of his last 10 starts, including a two-run 5-1/3 innings outing against Tampa Bay on July 26. The Orioles have only lost once against the Rays with Chen on the mound this season. Key matchups: JP Arencibia (2-2, RBI), Joey Butler (3-9, 2B, HR, RBI), Logan Forsythe (7-22, 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB), Brandon Guyer (5-16, 3 2B), Kevin Kiermaier (4-9, 3B, HR, 2 RBI), James Loney (6-19, 2 2B, HR, RBI), Evan Longoria (9-31, 3 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 6 BB), Daniel Nava (7-16, HR, 3 RBI, BB).

Chris Tillman (9-9, 4.58 ERA): Tillman gave up four runs on nine hits and a walk over six innings against the Royals on Thursday, en route to a 5-3 loss. His inability to miss bats lately is a major red flag — he has fanned 14 over 30-2/3 innings in his last five outings. However, Tillman held Tampa Bay to one run in seven innings back on July 24. Key matchups: Joey Butler (2-3, 2B), Brandon Guyer (2-6), Evan Longoria (16-33, 4 2B, 6 HR, 9 RBI, 5 BB), Grady Sizemore (3-10, HR, RBI, BB).

Kevin Gausman (2-6, 4.39 ERA): Gausman gave up four runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out three in 6-2/3 inning in Friday’s loss to Texas. The 24 year-old righty registered quality starts in five of his last six starts entering Friday, but struggled with the Rangers lineup. Gausman has given up 10 homers in his last 10 starts to go along with a very mediocre 4.57 ERA, but he’s averaged a solid 7.86 K/9 and posted a 1.14 WHIP over the same period. Gausman allowed two runs on one hit and two walks in 2-1/3 relief innings against Tampa Bay on April 7th. Key matchups: JP Arencibia (2-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI), Brandon Guyer (2-3, 2 2B, RBI), John Jaso (2-6, 3B, 3 RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (3-12, HR, 2 RBI), James Loney (3-12, RBI, 2 BB).

Noteworthiness

Here comes the calvary? Tampa Bay is expected add another catcher — either Justin O’Conner, who is on the 40-man roster, or Luke Maile, who is not — when the rosters expand Tuesday. Richie Shaffer and Mikie Mahtook are also slated to return. LHP Blake Snell may receive his first big-league call-up as well.

The team expects two waves of call-ups: Tuesday and September 8, the day after Durham’s season ends.

LHP Matt Moore, who is is 3-1 with a 3.30 ERA in five starts since returning to Durham, is also expected. Moore has fanned 43 batters and walked just eight in 30 innings.

Dr. Jekyll. Tampa Bay’s relievers have allowed one earned run in their last 18-2/3 innings over four-plus games.

Mr. Hyde. The lineup managed just eight runs in the series with the Royals.

— The Orioles have averaged 2.7 runs and hit .216 over an 11-game span while allowing six wild-card candidates to move ahead of them. Adam Jones is 2-for-20 over that run.

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“Rays Above” Pre-Order Window

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The pre-order window for our newest shirt design is now open! The Rays Above design will be printed on extra soft Next Level brand t-shirts, and the opportunity to order this design in the size of your choice is yours — all for the low price of $10.00 (postage paid).

Ordering couldn’t be simpler:

1. Place your order through the X-Rays Spex BigCartel store.
2. Shoot us a message with the size and number of shirts you wish to order.
3. Be sure to include your email address, and how you’d like to receive your order once it arrives — either via mail-order, or you can pick it up in person at our next watch party on September 25th.
If you choose to have the order sent to you, include your shipping address.

The pre-order window will be open until September 6th, at which point we’ll only carry sizes Small-through-XL, so do not delay!

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Looking Backward While Moving Forward: Rays Fall 6-3; More on the September Callups

Evan Longoria walks back to the dugout after striking out swinging with the bases loaded to end the third inning. (Photo Credit: Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Evan Longoria walks back to the dugout after striking out swinging with the bases loaded to end the third inning. (Photo Credit: Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

The Kansas City Royals continued their dominance over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday, winning by a 6-3 margin. Kansas City is an AL best 80-49 on the season, and 6-0 against Tampa Bay. Ever the relentless bunch, four of the Royals six runs came with two outs.

Tampa Bay looked to break through the 0-0 deadlock with two outs in the bottom of the third. Kevin Kiermaier reached on an infield hit, Rene Rivera was hit in the wrist then mouth with a pitch (he received attention from the training staff and was able to stay in the game), and Daniel Nava worked a walk to load the bases, bringing Evan Longoria to the plate. In spite of the opportunity to kick down the door, Longoria went down swinging on a fastball to end the inning. The missed opportunity proved costly.

The Royals broke the scoreless bout in the top of the fourth inning, after Lorenzo Cain drew a leadoff walk and Eric Hosmer doubled to left center. Kendrys Morales followed with a hard liner to Asdrubal Cabrera for what should have been an unassisted double play. However, the ball fell to the dirt when Cabrera started running toward second before securing it. The error put runners at the corners for Mike Moustakas, who hit a double to right for a two-run lead. Odorizzi settled down and retired the next three batters without a run scoring. That the righty tossed 28 pitches in the inning took its toll.

The Rays immediately rallied in the bottom of the inning to take the lead against Medlen. John Jaso doubled to right-center to start the rally, and he moved to third on a Logan Forsythe groundout. Cabrera singled home Jaso to make it a one run contest. James Loney flew out, but Kevin Kiermaier — on his action figure night — homered to right-center for the lead. Kansas City’s pitching staff hunkered down and didn’t allow a runner past first from then on.

The lead was also short-lived, as the Royals answered right back. Alcides Escobar walked to lead off the frame, though Ben Zobrist hit a fly ball for the first out. Then Cain walked, yet Eric Hosmer went down swinging for the second out. But with runners on first and second, Morales singled home Escobar, and Moustakas chased Odorizzi by hitting a big RBI double that allowed the Royals to regain the lead, changing the complexion of the game. It was the third straight game where a Rays starter was knocked out before the end of the fifth inning. Too, as it stands, in 10 of the last 14 innings where the Rays have scored, the opposition has immediately answered; an ugly trend that now seems par for the course for Tampa Bay.

After Escobar reached on a sixth inning, one-out error to Cabrera — his second of the night — Kansas City scored an unearned run in against Steve Geltz. Escobar stole his way into scoring position before Cain singled him home. That gave the Royals 26 two-out runs against the Rays this year. As if fate would have it, they made it 27 when Moustakas singled home a run against Enny Romero with two outs in the ninth. Romero tossed 2-2/3 scoreless innings previous to that point.

The New What Next

Sound the horn, as with the series prior, the Rays will look to avoid a sweep Sunday afternoon in the series finale. Nathan Karns (7-5, 3.69 ERA) will take the mound for Tampa Bay, opposite of Danny Duffy (7-6, 4.13 ERA). Karns’ starts have alternated between good and bad since August 14, and his last outing lasted just three innings. Karns  is 5-2/3 innings away from matching his career high as a professional. The 26-year-old Duffy allowed two runs on five hits in 5-2/3 innings against the Orioles on Tuesday, picking up the win in a 3-2 Royals’ victory. He is 5-2 with a 3.03 ERA in his past 10 starts. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.

Rays 8/30/15 Starting Lineup

Guyer RF
Nava 1B
Longoria 3B
Forsythe 2B
Butler LF
Beckham SS
Arencibia DH
Kiermaier CF
Rivera C
Karns RHP

Noteworthiness

— Interesting lineup today, with both catchers in the game lineup today with both catchers in the game (Rivera behind plate, Arencibia as DH).

— With 12 triples and 13 outfield assists, Kevin Kiermaier is the first outfielder to reach double digits in both categories in the same season since Carlos Beltran (2001, with Kansas City).

Expanding on something I wrote yesterday, the Rays are expected add another catcher — either Justin O’Conner, who is on the 40-man roster, or Luke Maile, who is not — when the rosters expand Tuesday. Richie Shaffer and Mikie Mahtook are also slated to return. LHP Blake Snell may receive his first big-league call-up as well.

The team expects two waves of call-ups: Tuesday and September 8, the day after Durham’s season ends.

LHP Matt Moore, who is is 3-1 with a 3.30 ERA in five starts since returning to Durham, is also expected.

I think there is potential for all of that, Cash said. We’re still not ready to announce anything. We know how important Matt Moore is to this organization, not only right now, but going forward, and the innings build up. We need Matt to pitch.

Moore has fanned 43 batters and walked just eight in 30 innings.

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Looking Backward While Moving Forward: Cash Ejected in Contentious 3-2 Loss

Kevin Cash argues a close play at first base with umpire Brian O'Nora on a ground-out by Logan Forsythe during the third inning on August 28, 2015. Cash was ejected. (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Kevin Cash argues a close play at first base with umpire Brian O’Nora on a ground-out by Logan Forsythe during the third inning on August 28, 2015. Cash was ejected. (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Tampa Bay Rays skipper Kevin Cash was tossed in the third inning of Friday night’s game, and his team was unable to rally past the Kansas City Royals (79-49), despite a handful of opportunities. The Rays are now 0-5 this season against the Royals after a 3-2 loss.

Tampa Bay sought an early lead in the first inning with runners at first and second after Grady Sizemore led off with a walk, and Daniel Nava grounded up the middle. Royals hurler Edinson Volquez put Evan Longoria away with a nasty changeup in the dirt for the first out of the frame. With John Jaso at the plate, both runners tried to advance on a ball in the dirt against the strong arm of Salvador Perez. He got the ball to second base in time to catch Nava — eliciting a review by Cash. The play was close, and the tag may not have been made, but there wasn’t a replay angle that offered enough clear and convincing evidence to overturn the out call. John Jaso followed by hitting a rally ending grounder to first.

The failed replay would come back to haunt Cash in the third inning.

Kansas City took a one run lead in the second against Erasmo Ramirez. Perez slapped an outside fastball through the right side, then advanced to second when Ramirez yanked a slider in what was called a passed ball. Rene Rivera almost stopped the errant pitch to no avail, it entered and exited his glove. Paulo Orlando responded by hitting an opposite field base hit, scoring the run. Yet the Rays were able to tie the score in the bottom of the frame.

With one out, Asdrubal Cabrera roped a pitch through the middle for a single. James Loney lined a backdoor breaking pitch into the right-field corner for a double. And as the ball rattled around in the corner, Cabrera scored all the way from first.

Missed opportunity alert… The inning ended with a base running gaffe on the part of Loney. The first baseman misread a Kevin Kiermaier liner into left-center, and tried to take an early jump to score. Yet the ball hung up for Orlando, who snared the hit, before it fell into play and easily doubled Loney off second.

The Royals tacked on two more in the third. Ramirez allowed a pair of base runners to start the inning, although the righty coaxed a double play-ball that appeared to get him out of trouble. Instead Kendrys Morales mashed a two-out, two-run homer that ricocheted off one of the lights on the catwalk in center.

Kiermaier climbed the wall as he anticipated a play on the homer.

The Rays then scored a two-out run in the third. With two out and none on, Nava and Longoria went back-to-back with base hits. The Trop’s roof helped plate a run when Jaso skied a ball into shallow left. Orlando misjudged and overran the easy play, allowing the ball to bounce off his glove. One run scored, moving runners to second and third.

Logan Forsythe grounded a ball to short, but Alcides Escobar was late with his throw to first, and Forsythe appeared to beat it out. Yet Brian O’Nura, the first-base umpire, clearly got the call wrong — thus ending the inning. With no challenges left, Cash stormed out of the dugout and gave it to O’Nura before getting the old heave-hoe. The game should have been tied at three, but it was not.

From there, the Rays never got a runner past second base. Meanwhile Xavier Cedeno, Matt Andriese and Steve Geltz combined to throw 4-2/3 innings of scoreless ball for the second consecutive game. Tampa Bay was unable to threaten, and lost another winnable game.

The New What Next

Jake Odorizzi (6-6, 3.02) will get the start on Saturday, opposite of Kris Medlen (2-0, 3.10 ERA) and the Royals. Odorizzi has made 14 quality starts and failed to win 10 of them. The former Royal will make his fourth career appearance against his old team; he is 0-2 with a 6.91 ERA. Medlen made his first start of the season last Monday, allowing three runs in six innings while fanning six and walking none. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.

Rays 8/29/15 Starting Lineup

Sizemore LF
Nava RF
Longoria 3B
Jaso DH
Forsythe 2B
Cabrera SS
Loney 1B
Kiermaier CF
Rivera C
Odorizzi RHP

Noteworthiness

— Did I mention that my favorite player returned to the Trop for the first time since being traded? Watching Ben Zobrist do his thing for the Royals was bitter sweet to say the least.

As Ian Malinowski (DRaysBay) noted, through 390 plate appearances, he’s having his best season since 2012, and it’s pretty interesting. He’s striking out only 9.7% of the time. That’s the lowest of his career, ever.

— The Rays put together a heartfelt tribute to Zobrist before the game. I may have shed a tear or two in section 143.

— Rays skipper Kevin Cash told Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) that there will likely be some call-ups on Tuesday, while others can be expected after the Durham Bulls’ season ends on September 7th. Matt Moore and pitching phenom Blake Snell are in discussion, among others.

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