Chris Archer will look to put together a 75-pitch or five-inning outing today in Baltimore.

After piecing together a 4-3 comeback win over the Orioles on Saturday, the Tampa Bay Rays look for a clean sweep in Baltimore this afternoon. The Rays have now rattled off an MLB leading 40 comeback wins.

At 81-48 on the season, Tampa Bay enters play with a 5.0 game lead in the AL East, tying their largest lead of the season with 33 games left to play.

As if on cue, all four of the Rays runs last night came late. In the seventh inning, Yandy Díaz singled to center, and Brandon Lowe doubled to right, chasing John Means. Dillon Tate entered the ballgame and allowed an RBI groundout to pinch-hitter, Austin Meadows, putting the Rays on the board. Pinch-hitter Joey Wendle followed with a double to left-center, cutting the Orioles lead to just a run. Even though Wendle was wild pitched up to third, Francisco Mejía grounded out, ending the outburst.

Then in the eighth inning, with former Ray Cole Sulser on the bump, Wander Franco extended his on-base streak to 28 games with a single to centerfield. Randy Arozarena followed with a 99 mph line-drive homer to right that snuck over the 20-foot wall for the go-ahead lead. It was the eighth homer Arozarena has hit against the Orioles this season.

Meanwhile, Michael Wacha got the start Saturday against Baltimore, yielding one run (after he left the ballgame) on three hits and two walks over 4.1 innings. He struck out six on 83 pitches (50 strikes, 60% Str%, 14% SwStr%). Wacha turned in the most effective outing of his five August turns, holding the Orioles off the board for four innings before allowing a Pedro Severino double in the fifth that eventually came around to score against Adam Conley.

The right-hander all but trashed his cutter, which has proved to be ineffective, throwing just one in the contest. Instead, Wacha leaned heavily on his four-seam fastball which sat in the mid-’90s throughout his outing and topped out at 97 mph. Still, the right-hander — who hasn’t pitched more than five innings since July 7 — was clearly on a short leash, and was pulled at the first sign of trouble. Wacha is 2-4 in 23 appearances (18 starts) this season, logging a 5.70 ERA and a 4.77 FIP, with a 1.49 WHIP, and a 3.50 K/BB across 94.2 innings.

The New What Next

Chris Archer (0-1, 4.26 ERA) will make his second start since coming off the Injured List, pitching opposite of Spenser Watkins (2-6, 7.07 ERA).

Chris Archer was pulled after two innings in his start Sunday against the White Sox due to left hip tightness. He gave up one hit and one walk while striking out four over two scoreless innings on 41 pitches. After being reinstated from the 60-day Injured List following a four-plus-month absence, the right-hander was expected to be limited to around five innings or 75 pitches. Archer ultimately succumbed to the hip issue, which previously bothered him during a minor-league rehab outing a few weeks back. He threw a successful bullpen session Wednesday and received the okay to throw in the series finale, although he likely will be faced with similar pitching constraints.

Spenser Watkins surrendered eight runs on seven hits and no walks while striking out three across two innings on Tuesday against the Angels. Aside from not walking any batters, Watkins failed to show any improvements Tuesday. He has now allowed 22 earned runs across his last 16 innings over his past four starts. His ERA is 12.38 over that stretch. Watkins is 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA in three starts against the Rays this season. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (3-4, 2B, RBI, BB), Nelson Cruz (3-6, 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Wander Franco (2-6, 2B, RBI), Brandon Lowe (2-7, 2B, RBI, BB), Manuel Margot (2-3, 2B), Francisco Mejía (2-3, 2B), Brett Phillips (1-2, 2B, RBI), Joey Wendle (2-8, 2B)

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

Rays 8/29/21 Starting Lineup

  1. Lowe 2B
  2. Arozarena LF
  3. Franco SS
  4. Meadows DH
  5. Wendle 3B
  6. Zunino C
  7. Phillips RF
  8. Luplow 1B
  9. Kiermaier CF
  10. Archer RHP

Noteworthiness

— Tampa Bay enters the day 17-1 against Baltimore and has won the last 11 contests between the two teams. The Rays have trailed the Orioles in 11 of the 17 victories. Their only loss against the O’s this season came with today’s starter, Spenser Watkins, on the mound.

— A little perspective … On the evening of August 14th, the Yankees began a stretch of 13 consecutive wins when they defeated the White Sox, 7-5. On the very same evening, the Rays fell to the Twins, 12-0. The Rays entered play last night with a 4.5 game lead over the Yankees.

After New York’s 13-game win streak (two weeks of nonstop wins) came to pass on Saturday, thanks to a 3-2 loss against Oakland, the Rays now maintain a 5.0 game division lead. Over that stretch, the Yankees gained just 1.5 games, which they subsequently could not hold onto.

— J.P. Feyereisen and Nick Anderson threw scoreless innings yesterday for Triple-A Durham as they work their way back from the Injured List.

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