After an 8-4, extra-inning loss on Independence Day, the Tampa Bay Rays will try and figure out a way to overcome the Yankees on Friday night. The Rays have lost five consecutive games against the Yankees and eight-of-ten this season. New York enters play with the best record American League, having gone 28-7 within the division.
After winning four consecutive ballgames, the Rays have dropped two in a row while allowing 17 runs. As Neil Solondz (Rays Radio) noted, 11 of those 17 runs have come in the final inning of those two games.
On the bright side, the Trop has now hosted four consecutive games of 20-thousand plus baseball fans, allowing the Rays to increase their average attendance to 15,099 per game — a difference of 455 fans per game over this time last season. They are one of just twelve teams in the league whose attendance has increased over last season. In fact, the Yankees have seen their average attendance fall by 2,923 fans per game. A modest increase? Absolutely, but positive change is positive change, and I’ll take it.
Furthermore, Tampa Bay has hit the 20-thousand home attendance mark 13 times in 2019, and we aren’t at the halfway point yet. For context, 20-thousand plus fans attended just nine of 81 home ballgames last season.
If the Rays can net at least 21-thousand fans over the final three games of this homestand, they will end the ceremonial first half of the season with an average attendance of 16,499, putting them between Oakland and Pittsburgh…but more importantly, above the lowest two teams.
To the Tampa Bay Rays, thank you for the family-friendly promotions and affordable ticket flash sales — they, indeed, are showing returns at the gate. Giving away free flags is also a good start, although we shouldn’t be happy until this town is painted with sunbursts and Rays signage. To the fans, I know it’s been a tough slog with the owner proclaiming doom and gloom, and making inflammatory proclamations that do nothing more than pit fan against fan, and municipality against municipality (and yes, I still think the sister season concept is nothing more than a leverage ploy). Good on all of us for keeping our head down and focused on something other than Stu.
Let’s continue to push those attendance numbers up. Get out to the ballpark and show Sternberg that WE CAN support our guys! At the end of the day, WE are on the up and up regardless of what anyone says about us.
The New What Next
Brendan McKay (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his second big league start tonight, pitching opposite of Masahiro Tanaka (5-5, 3.74 ERA).
Brendan McKay pitched six scoreless innings in his big league debut, allowing just one hit (tracked at 66.5 mph off the bat) and one walk with three punch outs. The left-hander took a perfect game into the sixth inning when he gave up two baserunners. McKay’s curveball was especially sharp, as he held Texas to 1-for-18 on his breaking pitch and generated 11 swings and misses.
Masahiro Tanaka allowed six runs on four hits and two walks across 2/3 of an inning on Saturday. He did not record a strikeout. The first game in London saw neither team’s starter make it out of the opening frame, with Tanaka delivering his worst start of the season by a significant margin. The 30-year-old now has a 3.74 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and a 3.70 K/BB over 98-2/3 innings this season. Tanaka has been very tough against the Rays this season, going 2-0 with a 0.41 ERA in three starts (22 IP). Key Matchups: Willy Adames (3-12, 2B, RBI), Guillermo Heredia (1-4), Kevin Kiermaier (8-31, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, BB), Tommy Pham (4-15, 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Joey Wendle (3-8, 2B 2 RBI), Mike Zunino (5-19, 2 2B, HR, RBI)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 7/5/19 Starting Lineup
- Meadows RF
- Pham LF
- Kiermaier CF
- Diaz DH
- Lowe 1B
- Adames SS
- Wendle 2B
- Brosseau 3B
- Zunino C
— The Rays are expected to have Kevin Kiermaier in the lineup tonight. Kiermaier has missed the last two games because of wrist soreness.
— Matt Duffy went 1-for-2 yesterday in a rehab outing with the Gulf Coast League Rays and played third base for five innings. He is scheduled to DH today.