“Gator” Mike Zunino hit one of three homers which helped push the Rays over the Red Sox on Wednesday. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After getting off the schneid and snapping a seven-game skid on Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Rays will go for their first series win in three tries tonight at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay played long ball last night, with Austin Meadows, “Gator” Mike Zunino, and Brandon Lowe each hitting multi-run homers, which accounted for seven of the Rays’ eight runs. Meanwhile, Rich Hill battled command issues — and some pretty shitty calls by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi — and allowed just one run across five innings.

There are a lot of missed calls, both balls, and strikes, on Rich Hill’s strike zone plot.

Rich Hill got the start Wednesday and allowed one run on three hits and five walks over five innings of work. Hill struck out five. The southpaw got the hook after 97 erratic pitches (58 strikes, 60% strike rate), as he hit a batter and uncorked a wild pitch. In all fairness though, home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi didn’t help the cause for either team. Per Umpire Score Cards, Cuzzi made 18 wrong calls (out of 197 pitches) which favored Boston by 0.93 runs and had a total run impact of 2.32 runs. A handful of those missed calls came at Hill’s expense. Nevertheless, Hill was able to keep Boston from cashing in on all the traffic while the Rays gave him plenty of run support. The lefty currently maintains a 3.52 ERA and a 4.19 FIP, with a 1.08 WHIP and 2.69 K/BB across 76-2/3 innings on the season.

Meanwhile, the Rays hit two homers in each of the first two innings to give them an early lead, as well as a late long ball to put the final nail in Boston’s coffin.

Down by a run in the bottom of the first, Wander Franco drew a walk before Austin Meadows laced a two-run homer to right for a 2-1 lead.

They built on that lead an inning later, and it all began with a Brett Phillips one-out walk. Phillips subsequently swiped second before “Gator” Mike launched a two-run homer to left, putting the Rays up by three.

Tampa Bay wasn’t done.

Brandon Lowe doubled then moved into third on Ji-Man Choi’s groundout. Wander Franco capped the rally when he hit a bouncer to second, then hustled down the line. Feeling the pressure, Kike Hernández double pumped and lobbed a one-hop throw to first which was too late to catch the hustling Franco. Consequently, Lowe crossed the plate for a 5-1 lead.

The good guys put the game out of reach in the bottom of the seventh against former Ray, Matt Andriese. The right-hander hit Joey Wendle with a pitch ahead of Manuel Margot, who singled to left. Andriese struck out the next two batters before Lowe drilled a homer to center, capping the Rays’ scoring at eight.


Boston was able to plate one last run in the eighth inning after Rafael Devers doubled to left off Jeffrey Springs, and Christian Vazquez looped a single to left off Ryan Thompson. Yet Thompson bounced back and got three outs while Diego Castillo worked around a frankly stupid (excuse my language) fucking sticky stuff check in the ninth inning to finish off the contest.

The New What Next

The Rays will wrap up the three-game set against Boston on Thursday with Michael Wacha (1-2, 5.19 ERA) on the mound. It will be interesting to see if Wacha pitches behind an opener given his last start. In any case, he’ll pitch opposite of Nick Pivetta (6-3, 4.36 ERA).

Micahel Wacha gave up five runs on 11 hits and a walk while fanning two across 3-2/3 innings on Friday. As expected, Wacha was unable to go deep into the game. He tossed 77 pitches (21 inefficient pitches per inning) and induced just three swinging strikes. Most of the damage came in a six-hit, four-run, 27-pitch first inning, and Wacha couldn’t even make it through the fourth inning. The veteran right-hander conceded that his stuff wasn’t the sharpest it’s been all season, although he thought he had enough to get the job done … I’d imagine the results throw cold water on that, but what do I know? I digress.

They definitely hit the pitches where they were pitched. If it was in, they pulled it. If it was away, they went with it. Credit to those guys. They had a good approach going in there. They found the holes, found the open spots and were able to put them there. I’ve got to do a better job making those two-strike pitches whenever I do get in those counts.

— Michael Wacha

Wacha now owns a 6.92 ERA over his last five appearances.

Nick Pivetta allowed three runs on six hits and three walks with six strikeouts in five innings on Friday against Kansas City. A third-inning three-run homer off the bat of Adalberto Mondesi was enough to send the right-hander to his third loss in his last four turns. Pivetta was strong over the first two months of the season, yet he’s now allowed 13 runs across 20-2/3 frames in his last four starts. Overall, the 28-year-old has a 4.36 ERA and a 4.13 FIP with a 1.35 WHIP, and a 2.39 K/BB across 74-1/3 innings. He blanked the Rays across five innings back on April 5. Key Matchup: Randy Arozarena (1-1, BB)

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

Rays 6/24/21 Starting Lineup

  1. B. Lowe 2B
  2. Franco SS
  3. Arozarena TF
  4. Meadows LH
  5. Díaz 1B
  6. Choi DH
  7. Wendle 3B
  8. Mejía C
  9. Kiermaier CF
  10. Wacha RHP


– The Rays have placed SS Taylor Walls (right wrist tendinitis) on the 10-day Injured List, retroactive to June 23, and recalled RHP Drew Rasmussen from Triple-A Durham. He is expected to miss as few as eight games.

— The Rays traded INF/OF Wyatt Mathisen to the Seattle Mariners for cash considerations.

Mathisen was designated for assignment Tuesday to make room for Wander Franco on the 40-man roster.

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