The Tampa Bay Rays did their best Minnesota Twins impersonation on Thursday, pummeling the highest scoring team in Major League Baseball 14-3. Tampa Bay enters the day at 35-19, sitting 1/2 game out of first place in the AL East, and are a season-best 16 games over .500.
The Rays handed Charlie Morton more than enough run support last night, and he responded by allowing two runs on four hits and no walks across seven innings on an efficient 87 pitches (62 strikes, 71% strike rate). He struck out six. Morton pitched to the minimum, allowing just one hit across the first four frames before the Twins got on the board in the fifth inning on a two-out single by Ehire Adrianza. Minnesota pushed across another run in the sixth inning on Max Kepler’s groundout. Morton likely could have gone deeper into the game, although the lopsided score allowed Kevin Cash to give Adam Kolarek and Oliver Drake a little work in the eighth and ninth innings. Consecutive quality starts have Morton’s ERA at an excellent 2.54 heading into his next scheduled start against Detroit.
Tampa Bay broke the game open with a six-run third inning which began with a one-out single to center by Daniel Robertson. After Avisail Garcia and Tommy Pham worked back-to-back walks, loading the bases, Austin Meadows doubled past first baseman CJ Cron into the right-field corner, clearing the bases.
Meadows moved up to third on a ground out before Travis d’Arnaud punched a single into shallow right field, plating another run. Then birthday boy Christian Arroyo, who was recalled from Triple-A Durham before the game, looped a ball into left-center which Byron Buxton bobbled, putting runners into scoring position on what was ruled a double. Finally, Brandon Lowe capped the inning with a two-run single to right, chasing starter Martin Perez.
Then in the fourth inning, the Rays jumped on Zack Littell who finished out the third. Garcia led things off with an infield into the hole at short, while Pham’s double to right-center moved both runners into scoring position. Meadows came up big again, lining an opposite-field single into left-center, scoring one.
Willy Adames drove in another run on a bullet into center field for a hit, although he was thrown out as he tried to move into second when Buxton bobbled the ball. Still, the running gaffe allowed Meadows to move up to third which was fortuitous. After d’Arnaud walked, putting runners at the corners, Arroyo doubled to the wall in left-center, scoring two. Finally, Lowe capped the five-run outburst with a double to right for an 11-0 lead.
Tampa Bay capped their scoring in the seventh inning on a two-out double by Garcia and a two-run homer by Ji-Man Choi on the next pitch.
Pham left the game after scoring in the fourth inning due to a right lower leg cramp.
The outfielder underwent an MRI which revealed “good results.” Per Josh Tolentino (The Athletic) Pham didn’t really sound concerned that the injury was anything more serious than a cramp, as he joked around and said he’ll ask Kevin Cash to be in the lineup on Friday.
The New What Next
Game two of the four-game series is on Friday night as opener Ryne Stanek (0-1, 2.97 ERA) will take the mound for the first two innings, and will likely be followed by Jalen Beeks (4-0, 2.83 ERA). They’ll be opposed by Jose Berrios (7-2, 3.20 ERA).
Ryne Stanek allowed one hit and a walk while striking out a batter across two innings as an opener on Tuesday. Stanek recorded an impressive outing as an opener, and in 15 “starts” this season, he owns a 1.50 ERA. He is 0-1 with a 2.97 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 32 strikeouts in 30-1/3 innings this season.
Jalen Beeks pitched to contact on Sunday, allowing no runs on two hits and three walks while striking out three over 4-2/3 innings of a win over Cleveland. Beeks had great results in his outing even though he only fired off 54% of strikes (49 of 91 pitches total). Be it as it may, the southpaw continues to keep the ball in the yard, allowing just one home run on the season (41-1/3 innings). It was a nice bounce-back performance from Beeks who has given up more than three runs in any outing just twice in 2019.
Jose Berríos gave up four runs (one earned) on nine hits over 6-2/3 innings while striking out four in his last turn. The shaky defense allowed Chicago to take a four-run lead in the second inning, but Berríos bounced back and put up zeroes the rest of the way. The right-hander attacked the strike zone all night, throwing 74 of 98 pitches for strikes (75% strike rate), and he carries a 3.20 ERA and 5.82 K/BB through 70-1/3 innings on the season. He relies primarily on a whiffy 93 mph four-seam fastball, an 82 mph curveball with sweeping glove-side movement, and a 92 mph sinker, while also mixing in an 84 mph changeup with fade and sink. Berríos is 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA in three career starts against the Rays, and 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA in two starts at Tropicana Field. Key Matchups: Avisail Garcia (3-12, RBI, BB), Guillermo Heredia (1-4)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 5/31/19 Starting Lineup
- Meadows LF
- B. Lowe 2B
- Adames DH
- Choi 1B
- Arroyo 3B
- Kiermaier CF
- Robertson SS
- Zunino C
- Heredia RF
- Stanek RHP
— Tommy Pham is not in tonight’s lineup.
— The Rays have activated catcher Mike Zunino from the IL and have designated catcher Erik Kratz for assignment.
Kratz spoke fondly on his time on the Rays:
This organization allows everybody to be who they are. Every guy is able to contribute here from the first guy to the 25th guy. Sometimes you’re on teams and guys dont fit in. There’s none of that here. It’s so awesome to be part of.— Erik Kratz