After a 5-2 loss to the New York Mets on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays look to get back on the winning side of the ledger, take the series, and clinch the AL East title on Wednesday, in New York.
Tampa Bay enters play 16 games over .500 and with a 3-1/2 game lead over the Yankees with four games left to play. They also boast a magic number of one. As Neil Solondz (Rays Radio) writes, “the Rays lead Chicago by 1-1/2 games for the best record in the American League, and Tampa Bay has lost just one of the team’s last 14 series.”
This will be Tampa Bay’s last regular-season road game of the 2020 season. The Rays, who are 5-2 on the current road trip, could end the season with a 20-11 road record.
The Rays have struggled offensively of late, which is due in part to the absence of three of the team’s top four hitters — Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Diaz (hamstring injuries), and Austin Meadows (oblique strain) — due to injury. Choi and Diaz got reps yesterday in Port Charlotte, although Rays skipper Kevin Cash said they still need to improve significantly to even be included on the team’s playoff roster.
The injuries have dealt the Rays a tough hand, as the have scored three runs or fewer in five consecutive games and seven of eight contests. There’s another reason they are scuffling though: Tampa Bay hasn’t been able to get timely hits. The team is currently in an 0-22 wRISP. With Mike Brosseau getting a few days off, as he deals with overall body soreness, the Rays only really have two hot hitters in the lineup tonight; Willy Adames, who scored twice on Tuesday and has three homers on the road trip, and Joey Wendle, who collected two hits yesterday and is 7-for-13 in the last four games.
The New What Next
Tyler Glasnow (4-1, 4.21 ERA) will get the start for the Rays tonight, pitching opposite of former Cardinal hurler Michael Wacha (1-3, 6.75 ERA).
Tyler Glasnow got the start Friday against former Ray Alex Cobb and battled, allowing one run on four hits (one home run) and two walks while fanning 10 across five innings on 95 pitches (64 strikes, 67% strike rate, 20% SwStr%) en route to his fourth win of the season.
Glasnow, however, really had to work for his outs, using 50 pitches over the first two frames. The right-hander had a runner at second with one out in the first inning, then really did some heavy lifting in the second. He loaded the bases on a walk sandwiched around a pair of singles. However, Glasnow struck out Bryan Holaday and Andrew Velazquez, then got Cedric Mullins to fly to left, keeping Baltimore off the board.
Getting out of the second inning was a big step from me. Good growth moment, like Kyle would say. I felt, like, calm … nothing sped up.— Tyler Glasnow
The right-hander’s only mistake of the night came in the bottom of the fourth when he allowed an Austin Hays solo shot to begin the frame. Yet, Glasnow struck out the side afterward (as well as in the first) and surrendered nothing else. Glasnow came into Friday’s contest averaging 14.2 K/9 and raised it to 14.6 by the time his night was over. He again lowered his ERA, this time to 4.21 (3.47 FIP), and maintains an impressive 3.95 K/BB across 51-1/3 innings this season. Glasnow is 0-2 with a 7.07 ERA in five career outings (two starts) against the Mets.
Michael Wacha was moved into the rotation for left-hander Steven Matz. Wacha gave up a run in four innings a week ago against Philadelphia. He has not thrown more than 71 pitches in a game since August 7th. Wacha is 0-2 with a 9.72 ERA in two career starts for the Rays. However, only four current Rays have ever faced Wacha. Key Matchup: Hunter Renfroe (1-1, 2B)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 9/23/20 Starting Lineup
- Tsutsugo DH
- B. Lowe 2B
- Arozarena LF
- N. Lowe 1B
- Renfroe RF
- Wendle 3B
- Adames SS
- Margot CF
- Zunino C
— Jose Alvarado (lat strain) will throw in a simulated game on Thursday and another over the weekend. From there, it will be determined whether he will be able to rejoin the Rays for the first round of the playoffs.