Tampa Bay was able to get to Dallas Keuchel early, while right-hander Austin Pruitt posted the best big league outing of his career. When the dust had settled, the Rays walked out of Minute Maid Park with their second consecutive win, 3-0, and their fifth win in nine tries. They start the day a half game back of Kansas City for the last playoff spot, 2-1/2 games behind New York for the top Wildcard spot, and 3-1/2 back of the Red Sox in the AL East.
Considering the pitching line Pruitt has performed to this season, paired with the fact that the Rays were going up against one of the best pitchers in baseball, a Rays win probably didn’t appear in anybody’s crystal ball. Yet low and behold Pruitt went 6-1/3 innings, outlasted Keuchel, and worked around just five hits and a walk, while striking out three.
Pruitt’s biggest jam came in the third inning after Alex Bregman doubled to left and Jake Marisnick bunted toward the mound. Pruitt fielded the ball and threw to third in an attempt to get the lead runner. But Bregman avoided a tag from Evan Longoria putting runners on the corners with none out. Pruitt bared down, however, and struck out Derek Fisher for the first out of the frame. Three pitches later, Pruitt got Jose Altuve to ground into a 4–3 double play, ending the threat.
Pruitt also cajoled another huge double play to end the sixth, getting Yuri Gurriel to ground into a 5-4-3 twin-killing with runners at first and second and one out.
All of the the hits Pruitt surrendered led off an inning, yet the right-hander played off of Houston’s aggressiveness and pitched to the margins. In doing so he induced weak contact and coaxed mishits, held the Astros to 0-for-6 wRISP — Houston went 0-for-9 overall — and kept his pitch count low. In the battle for Texas, Austin reigned supreme over Dallas.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) August 3, 2017
Meanwhile, the Rays took a first inning lead and never looked back. Trevor Plouffe lined a one-out single to left, before Logan Morrison drilled a two-run homer to right.
Logan Morrison gives the Rays an early 2-0 lead in the top of the 1st as he deposits a two-run homer into the bullpen in right-center!!! pic.twitter.com/5RwPCuc5cP
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) August 3, 2017
It was the second homer in as many days for Morrison (his 28th of the season) and just the eighth allowed by Keuchel this year.
Tampa Bay was able to tack on an insurance run in the third inning after Wilson Ramos worked a full count walk ahead of Adeiny Hechavarria, who singled to right. Brad Miller also singled to right, driving home The Buffalo from second.
Kevin Cash went to the bullpen one out into the seventh after Pruitt gave up a leadoff double to Marwin Gonzalez, then got Carlos Beltran to pop out to left. Steve Cishek took over and walked Brian McCann, but got Alex Bregman to bounce into an inning-ending 6–3 double play — the third double play turned by the Rays.
Cishek took the mound once more in the eighth and quickly got the first two outs of the inning. However, the side-armer made an errant throw on Altuve’s bunt toward the mound, and he ended up at second. Cash called upon Dan Jennings to face the switch hitting pinch-hitter Evan Gattis. After Altuve swiped third uncontested, Jennings got Gattis to pop out to end the threat.
Finally, Alex Colome worked around a one-out walk to earn his 32nd save.
Those two guys are paying great dividends.” https://t.co/pSDhDNz7p4
Credit where it’s due, Colome got (more than) a little help from Hechavarria, who robbed Beltran of a one-out hit.
The New What Next
The Rays and Astros wrap up the season series on Thursday when Blake Snell (0-6, 4.87 ERA, 5.08 FIP) takes the mound, opposite of right-hander Collin McHugh (0-0, 4.22 ERA, 4.65 FIP).
Snell has fared better since making an adjustment two games ago, moving from the third-base side of the rubber to the center. The southpaw allowed three runs over 5-1/3 innings in his most recent outing on Saturday. Despite the fact that he is still searching for his first win of the season, there were some positive takeaways for Snell in his last start, as he limited damage and walked only two.
McHugh made his second start of the season (after missing the first half with an elbow injury) on Saturday, tossing six innings of one-run, four hit ball. He struck out seven. The right-hander sailed through the first four frames before he allowed a run in the fifth inning. So far this season he has relied upon a 92 mph four-seam fastball with average velocity, an 80 mph whiffy slider that sweeps across the zone, and a whiffy 76 mph curveball slight glove-side movement. He’s also mixed in a 91 mph sinker from time-to-time when he needs a weak popper. Even though he’s performed to a 2.52 ERA against Tampa Bay, he’s lost all four career starts against the Rays. Key Matchups: Adeiny Hechavarria (1-3), Logan Morrison (4-13, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB)
Rays 8/3/17 Starting Lineup
— Souza has reportedly tested his left foot running this afternoon, and said more than likely he’ll play tonight. He told reporters there is still some discomfort, however, it’s muted by the peace of mind of a negative MRI.
— The Rays received good news during ball game. Steven Souza Jr., who is dealing with a sore foot after fouling a ball off of it, was a late scratch from the lineup on Wednesday. Souza was sent for more tests on his foot, and the results came back negative.
— Jake Odorizzi’s bullpen session at Tropicana Field reportedly went well, and he could rejoin the rotation as soon as Tuesday.
— After a nine inning rehab game for the Durham Bulls, Daniel Robertson (neck) will be reassessed to see if he could be activated from the DL.
— Thursday marks the first day post-trade deadline that players can clear waivers and be available to be dealt.