Wander Franco collected two hits (single, home run), two walks, one RBI, and three runs across two games yesterday. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After sweeping a doubleheader in Toronto on Saturday, the Tampa Bay Rays look to cap the five-game, four-day series with a win this afternoon.

At 42-36 on the season, the Rays enter play six games over .500. They regained all the ground ceded to the Blue Jays in the previous two games, on Thursday and Friday, and a win would give them an opportunity to gain a game this afternoon.

Tampa Bay collected double-digit hits in each game yesterday and hit five homers across the span of the doubleheader after collecting just two in the previous seven games. That includes one home run in each contest by Isaac Paredes, who now has 13 homers this season, and a pair of jacks by Francisco Mejia in the second game of the day-night set. Paredes has hit 10 home runs since June 1. Meanwhile, Yandy Diaz and Harold Ramirez both collected multiple hits in each game of the doubleheader.

Meanwhile, Drew Rasmussen allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks over 4.2 innings. He struck out two. In his return from the Injured List, Rasmussen did fairly well to keep the Blue Jays’ high-powered offense at bay. However, he issued two walks in the fifth inning and manager Kevin Cash would not let the right-hander face Bo Bichette a third time. With that, Rasmussen fell short of qualifying for a win, but he should be available to add to his workload gradually in his subsequent starts after throwing 68 pitches (41 strikes, 60% strike rate) Saturday. He now maintains a 3.30 ERA and 3.86 FIP, with a 2.83 K/BB, and a 1.16 WHIP across 62.2 innings on the season.

The 17 runs scored across the twin bill allowed Tampa Bay to keep the bullpen fresh. Dusten Knight, who posted 2.1 innings of work in the second game, was optioned to Triple-A Durham after the doubleheader, so only three active relievers pitched on Saturday — Javy Guerra, Phoenix Sanders, and Ralph Garza Jr. Jason Adam, Shawn Armstrong, Jalen Beeks, and Colin Poche have yet to pitch in this series, while Matt Wisler threw one inning on Thursday.

Tampa Bay also optioned Ralph Garza Jr. back to Durham, while Cristofer Ogando was selected from the taxi squad. Ogando has not appeared in a big-league game, going 1-1 with a 3.03 ERA over 32.2 innings with the Bulls. If Ogando appears in a game, he would be the 29th pitcher (and the 47th player) to play this season for the Rays. All told, he maintains a 4.02 FIP, a 2.91 K/BB, and a 0.98 WHIP on the season.

The New What Next

Shane Baz (0-1, 3.38 ERA) will get the start in the series finale, pitching opposite Ross Stripling (4-2, 3.12 ERA).

Shane Baz allowed a run on three hits and two walks while striking out six across 5.2 innings against the Brewers on Tuesday. Baz held the Brewers scoreless through the first five frames, scattering two singles and two walks. After allowing a leadoff single in the sixth, he fanned the next two batters but was removed from the ballgame, having thrown a season-high 95 pitches. Matt Wisler came in and promptly allowed a pair of two-out, two-run homers. Baz has been excellent over his last three starts, allowing two runs in 16.1 innings while posting a 4.75 K/BB. Overall, Baz maintains a 3.38 ERA and a 3.56 FIP, with a 1.02 WHIP, and a 3.00 K/BB across 18.2 innings on the season. He is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in one career start against Toronto.

Ross Stripling struck out three in five innings on Tuesday while allowing two runs on five hits and a walk. Stripling allowed a solo homer to Trevor Story in the second inning and consecutive hits to begin the fifth, leading to another run. He was removed after five innings after having tossed 81 pitches rather than face the heart of Boston’s order for the third time. It was a good start for the 32-year-old, who’s compiled a 1.75 ERA and 4.25 K/BB in 25.2 innings over five starts in June. All told, Stripling maintains a 3.12 ERA and a 3.06 FIP, with a 1.08 WHIP, and a 3.83 K/BB across 57.2 innings on the season. The veteran hurler relies primarily on a 92 mph four-seam fastball, 82 mph changeup, and an 87 mph worm-killer slider, while also mixing in a 76 mph 12-6 curveball, and a 90 mph sinker that has little sinking action. He is 0-2 with a 3.80 ERA in seven career outings (two starts) against the Rays. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (1-3, 5 BB), Francisco Mejia (2-5, 2B, RBI, BB)

You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.

Rays 7/3/22 Starting Lineup

  1. Diaz DH
  2. Franco SS
  3. Ramirez RF
  4. Choi 1B
  5. Paredes 3B
  6. Arozarena LF
  7. Kiermaier CF
  8. Walls 2B
  9. Pinto C


— Luis Patino made a rehab start for Triple-A Durham on Saturday and hurled three scoreless frames while throwing 49 pitches. Patino surrendered three hits and two walks while striking out one. The right-hander has now gotten stretched out to six frames, although he has been dealing with a blister on his pitching hand.