Charlie Morton continued his terrific stretch on the mound, while the Rays hit three home runs as they defeated the Athletics, 6-2. Tampa Bay has won six of the last seven games, and now sits a season-best 17 games above .500 (41-24) with sole possession of first place in the AL East — a half-game ahead of the Yankees.
Morton allowed just two hits (with a combined exit velocity of 121.7 mph) and two walks across seven scoreless innings. He struck out seven batters on an efficient 83 pitches (55 strikes, 66% strike rate).
Morton got into some trouble in the first and third innings before he dialed it in, and went on a stretch where he retired 14 batters in a row. In the first, the right-hander allowed a leadoff single to Marcus Semien and then hit Matt Olson with one out. However, CFM punched out both Khris Davis and Steven Piscotty to end the threat.
Then in the third inning, Semien singled while Matt Chapman and Olson walked with one out, loading the bases. Yet Morton struck out Davis and got an inning-ending grounder from Piscotty, silencing the home run hitting Athletics for the balance of his start.
From then on, Morton retired his final 14 batters…although he did get a little help from his friends. In the fifth inning, Tommy Pham leaped at the wall in left to rob Chapman of an extra-base hit.
Then in the seventh, Kevin Kiermaier took away extra bases from Jurickson Profar when he made another sensational leaping grab at the wall in center.
In two June starts, Morton has tossed 14 scoreless frames with a 7.5 K/BB. His season ERA is down to a sparkling 2.10, while his FIP sits at 2.66 across 81-1/3 frames.
On the other side of the rubber, Tanner Anderson kept the Rays in check over the first five innings, yet neither he nor the Athletics relievers could keep Tampa Bay down entirely. In the sixth inning, Anderson walked Austin Meadows to leadoff the frame. After Meadows moved into second on a Tommy Pham groundout, Brandon Lowe hit an opposite-field homer to left on a 1-0 pitch, breaking the deadlock.
It was Lowe’s 14th homer of the season, and his third in two days.
Then in the seventh inning, Yandy Diaz doubled to right off reliever Yusmeiro Petit. Two pitches later, Kiermaier homered to center, his eighth of the season, for a four-run lead.
Colin Poche took over in the eighth inning and pitched a perfect frame with a pair of strikeouts in his Tropicana Field debut. In the bottom of the inning, Avisail Garcia singled to left against Joakim Soria before Ji-Man Choi hit a 445-foot blast to right, capping the scoring for Tampa Bay.
Poche took the mound again in the ninth and gave up the dreaded late-inning leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Mark Canha before he coaxed a line drive out to left from Davis.
With a runner on and one out, Chaz Roe entered in relief and gave up a 1-1 run-scoring double to Piscotty, which was followed by an 0-1 run-scoring single to left from Robbie Grossman on a 93 mph fastball that caught too much plate. On the very next pitch, Roe got Ramón Laureano to line out to left, while Profar grounded out to second to end the game.
The Rays now have scored five or more runs in five of the last six games, and have hit 13 homers over that stretch, including three last night.
The New What Next
Game two of the series is on Tuesday night when the dynamic duo of opener Ryne Stanek (0-1, 2.78 ERA) and bulk guy Jalen Beeks (5-0, 2.76 ERA) take the mound opposite of Mike Fiers (5-3, 4.76 ERA).
Ryne Stanek didn’t allow a run but walked three in 1-1/3 innings against the Red Sox in the second game of the doubleheader on Saturday. Stanek has been especially impressive at home this season, allowing just two runs over 20 innings.
Jalen Beeks scattered four hits and no walks while striking out two across 4-1/3 scoreless innings on Thursday against the Tigers. The left-hander entered the game in the third inning after opener Ryne Stanek, and pitched effectively into the seventh, limiting the Tigers’ bats and allowing just one extra-base hit and three singles. Beeks has been effective in a bulk-relief role this season, punching out 45 with a 2.76 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP across 49 innings. As Neil Solondz (Rays Radio) wrote, the challenge will be that Oakland does extremely well against lefties, as their OPS before the series began was .858, second in the American League.
Mike Fiers held the Angels to three runs on seven hits and no walks with five strikeouts through six innings. Fiers bested the Halos for the second time this season, improving to a career 5-4 over 11 starts. Fiers did get himself into some trouble in the fourth inning by allowing three consecutive singles to load the bases. Brian Goodwin hit a sacrifice fly to get the Angels on the board. Fiers also surrendered a two-run shot to Mike Trout in the fifth inning, although the Angels could not inflict any other damage on the night. The 33-year-old had been reliable of late, allowing three runs or fewer over eight consecutive starts. He’ll carry a 4.78 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 2.58 K/BB into his start on Tuesday. Fiers relies primarily on a 91 mph four-seam fastball with added backspin, while also mixing in a 74 mph curveball with “slurve” movement, an 87 mph cutter, an 85 mph changeup with fade and sink, and a whiffy 90 mph sinker. He is 1-2 with a 5.34 ERA in five career starts against the Rays. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-1, HR, RBI, BB), Avaisail Garcia (4-8, 2B), Guillermo Heredia (1-1, 3B), Kevin Kiermaier (2-8), Mike Zunino (2-8, 2B)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 6/11/19 Starting Lineup
- Meadows DH
- Pham LF
- B. Lowe 2B
- Diaz 3B
- Choi 1B
- Adames SS
- Kiermaier CF
- Zunino C
- Heredia RF
- Stanek Opener
— Joey Wendle went 1-for-4 with a walk in his latest rehab game with Triple-A Durham. Even though Rays manager Kevin Cash said “there’s not a time frame” for Wendle’s return, he also said, “we’d certainly like to see him at some point on this homestand.”
— Brent Honeywell underwent surgery Monday after fracturing the right medial epicondyle bone in his elbow on Saturday, ending his hopes to return this season from February 2018 Tommy John surgery.
The team got what sounds like good news from Dr. James Andrews, who repaired the fracture: there was no damage to the repaired ligament. If the all goes as planned, Honeywell can start throwing again in January.
— Right-hander Tyler Glasnow (forearm strain) said everything “feels good and is “coming along according to schedule.” Glasnow is throwing at 75 feet and will soon progress to 90 and then likely get back on the mound. He is eligible to return after the All-Star break.
— Per Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) Jose Alvarado remains on the unpaid restricted list dealing with an undisclosed family matter in Venezuela, now not likely to return until later in the week.