The Tampa Bay Rays snapped their two-game mini skid Friday night, powered by four home runs and a quality start by Charlie Morton. With the 11-4 win over the Angels, Tampa Bay (88-61) maintained its hold on the final AL Wildcard spot.
The Rays enter play a half-game behind the Athletics for the top Wildcard spot; Oakland defeated Texas last night, 14-9. Cleveland was rained out, so the Rays regained a half-game margin with 13 games left to play.
As they’ve been wont to do all season, the Rays found themselves with an excellent opportunity to strike first in the opening frame against Andrew Heaney. Austin Meadows, Travis d’Arnaud, and Jesus Aguilar hit back-to-back-to-back two-out singles, yet Kole Calhoun gunned down Meadows at the plate as he tried to score, leaving Tampa Bay empty-handed. in the first
It was Los Angeles that scored first in the second inning against Morton. Albert Pujols led off the frame on a double down the right-field line, then moved up to third on a groundout. The future Hall of Famer came home on Luis Rengifo’s base hit to left-center.
Down by a run in the third inning, Tampa Bay muscled its way into the lead against Heaney. Willy Adames tied the game at one apiece when he crushed a leadoff homer 450 feet into left field. Then with one out, Tommy Pham singled to center before Meadows blasted his 30th homer of the season, putting the Rays up by a pair. And with two outs, Jesus Aguilar hit the third long ball of the frame, making it 4-1.
Yet Morton, who didn’t have his best stuff early on, allowed the Angels to answer in the bottom of the inning. After David Fletcher hit a two-out single to right, Calhoun launched a two-run homer. The right fielder worked himself into a 3-1 count, which forced the right-hander to throw a predictable fastball.
Seeing Los Angeles chip away at the lead, Tampa Bay started to pull away in the fourth inning, consequently chasing Heaney. The left-hander was lifted after back-to-back one-out singles by Daniel Robertson, Adames, and Avisail Garcia which extended the lead to two. Luke Bard, who came on in relief of Heaney, uncorked a wild pitch before Adames scored on Pham’s grounder through the left side for a 6-3 lead.
Morton calmed down in the bottom of a pretty intense inning, which began with an Andrelton Simmons bloop single to left, and a Jared Walsh double off the top of the left-field wall. But, Morton fanned Rengifo for the first out before Travis Ward lined out to second, putting a damageless frame within reach. Finally, Kevan Smith grounded out to Morton, ending the threat and beginning a stretch nine consecutive outs by the right-hander.
After a quiet fifth inning, Tampa Bay added to the lead in the sixth when Guillermo Heredia homered to left off Bard, making it 7-3.
They weren’t done scoring. In the seventh inning, Pham walked against Taylor Cole then swiped second. Travis d’Arnaud singled him home, extending the advantage to five runs. Then in the eighth inning, Matt Duffy doubled to lead off the frame, Adames walked with two outs, and Garcia hit a two-RBI double to left-center for a 10-3 lead.
Meanwhile, Morton and Andrew Kittredge retired 14 consecutive batters before Calhoun homered in the eighth inning, capping the Angels scoring.
But the Rays answered one last time in the ninth when Johnny Davis, in his first big-league at-bat, tripled to left off reliever Jake Jewell.
Aguilar drove him home on a sacrifice fly to center.
All told, Tampa Bay collected 15 hits — seven for extra bases. All nine starters had at least one hit.
The New What Next
Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 2.15 ERA) will make his second start since returning from the IL, pitching opposite of Jaime Barria (4-8, 6.14 ERA).
Tyler Glasnow allowed two runs on one hit and two walks while striking out five across two innings against the Blue Jays on Sunday. Glasnow hit 99 and 100 mph in his return to the mound and only expected to pitch a couple of innings since returning from the IL Glasnow fanned the first three batters he faced before walking two and allowing a two-run home run in the second inning. On the positive side, the 26-year-old generated six swinging strikes. Glasnow has a 2.15 ERA and 60 strikeouts through nine starts this season.
Jaime Barria allowed two runs on four hits and a walk with two strikeouts across 4-1/3 innings against the White Sox on Sunday. Barria entered after an opener in the first inning and recorded the final out of that frame. He gave up two solo shots in the middle frames, but that’s about all over almost five innings. Barria owns a 6.14 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP with 66 strikeouts in 70-1/3 innings of work (16 appearances) including 10 starts this season. Barria relies primarily on an 84 mph slider and a 92 mph four-seam fastball with little natural movement, while also mixing in an 83 mph worm-killer changeup.
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 9/14/19 Starting Lineup
- Wendle 3B
- Meadows RF
- Pham LF
- Choi 1B
- d’Arnaud C
- Lowe DH
- Sogard 2B
- Kiermaier CF
- Adames SS
— After a scoreless second rehab outing from left-hander Blake Snell, the Tampa Bay Rays deemed the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner ready to return from the IL in the upcoming series against the Dodgers.
Overall I was happy with it. It was a huge stride forward compared to the last start. I felt a lot more comfortable than I did. … A lot more in control of the fastball. … Still making strides. Still getting there. I definitely feel a lot more confident where I’m at right now.— Blake Snell
Snell will likely be on a similar program to RHP Tyler Glasnow, throwing around 40 pitches and building from there.
— Per Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) Kevin Kiermaier said before the game he was “getting closer” to returning to the lineup, potentially Saturday, but still troubled, despite a series of chiropractic adjustments, by the neck strain that has idled him since Sunday. “Obviously I want to be out there,’’ he said. “I want to try to make it go away enough where I’m not putting myself at risk of losing another week.’’ He said throwing is the biggest issue, hitting has been tough and running is fine. He played the final three innings on Friday and said he felt good.
— Eric Sogard (bruised right foot) is aiming to rejoin the lineup tonight.
— Brandon Lowe (quad strain, leg bruise) and pitcher Yonny Chirinos (finger inflammation) are ramping up their workouts at Tropicana Field and as part of the instructional league in Port Charlotte. Both remain possibilities to return before the September 29 end of the regular season.