Gator Mike was the sole offensive provider for the Rays last night. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After a 3-1 loss against the Bronx Bummers on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays look to even the score in the second game of the series tonight. At 19-18 on the season, Tampa Bay looks to stay above .500 after dropping three of their last four.

Gator Mike Zunino provided the Rays with all their offense last night when he launched his seventh homer of the season, a massive 472-foot blast to left-center. The team went 0-5 wRISP overall and stranded five runners on the bags. That’s the opposite of great, in case you were unaware.

Tampa Bay has struggled at home, going 7-11, and hitting a tepid .205 at the Trop. Juxtapose that with .231 on the road. As Neil Solondz (Rays Radio) noted, “The numbers are more pronounced with runners in scoring position, as Tampa Bay is hitting .249 on the road, and just .139 at home (19-for-137).”

It won’t get any easier tonight with Gerrit Cole on the mound. More on that below.

The New What Next

Collin McHugh (0-1, 7.36 ERA) will pitch out of the opener’s role ahead of bulk guy Ryan Yarbrough (2-3, 4.58 ERA). They’ll pitch opposite of Gerrit Cole (4-1, 1.61 ERA).

Collin McHugh was reinstated from the Injured List on the last road trip and threw two perfect frames as an opener against the Angels, striking out five.

Ryan Yarbrough pitched four innings of one-run ball against the Angels on Wednesday, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out three. Yarbrough worked as the bulk guy in the contest, entering the game in the third inning following a pair of scoreless frames by opener Andrew Kittredge. Yarbrough tossed 65 pitches (40 strikes, 62% strike rate) in his four innings and limited Los Angeles to a lone third-inning run. He carries a 4.58 ERA and 3.63 K/BB on the season and is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in one outing against the Yankees this season.

Gerrit Cole allowed two earned runs on five hits and no walks while striking out four across seven innings Thursday against the Astros. Cole allowed two solo home runs but otherwise held Houston without an extra-base hit. It was something of a down performance inasmuch that Cole only struck out four, although the rest of his line was still typically strong. For the season, Cole has a 1.61 ERA with a sensational 22.0 K/BB across 44-2/3 innings. Even so, he is 0-4 with a 3.91 ERA in eight career starts against the Rays, and most recently allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits across 6-1/3 innings against them on April 15. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (8-12, 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB), Yandy Díaz (6-15, HR, 2 RBI), Brett Phillips (1-1), Yoshi Tsutsugo (1-4, 2B, RBI), Joey Wendle (4-13, 3B, 3 RBI)

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

Rays 5/12/21 Starting Lineup

  1. Arozarena DH
  2. Meadows LF
  3. Margot RF
  4. B. Lowe 2B
  5. Díaz 1B
  6. Wendle 3B
  7. Zunino C
  8. Adames SS
  9. Phillips CF
  10. Yarbrough LHP

Noteworthiness

— 1B/DH Ji-Man Choi has not been activated from the IL ahead of Wednesday’s contest. Rays skipper Kevin Cash said Choi felt a little sore yesterday while playing for the Bulls. Choi, who went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Monday, is rehabbing from meniscus surgery. He got looked at by Doctor Koco Eaton in St. Petersburg and is expected to receive treatment. The team is hopeful the soreness is just a matter of managing pain coming off of surgery.

— Francisco Mejía and Kevin Kiermaier both are doing significantly better, according to Cash, while Diego Castillo is expected to be active if all goes well this weekend. Michael Wacha (hamstring tightness) will throw a 25-30 pitch bullpen on Thursday.

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