…The irony when a makeup game, for a weather postponement, itself almost gets rained out. Hey Baltimore, how about less of this today?!

After splitting a double header in Baltimore on Saturday, the Tampa Bay Rays look to split the four-game series against the Orioles Sunday afternoon. Tampa Bay snapped a five-game skid, winning the nightcap of the double header 10-3.

Tampa Bay did make multiple roster moves heading into today’s game, option to add a fresh arm in calling up RHP Austin Pruitt.

RHP Ryne Stanek, who gave up a grand slam in the first game of the series was optioned back to Triple-A Durham. Also, he 26th man in the doubleheader, RHP Anthony Banda, was sent back to Durham even though he didn’t pitch in the night-cap.

The New What Next

Blake Snell allowed one run on four hits and two walks over 6-1/3 innings on Tuesday against the Braves. He struck out five. The southpaw threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of 25 batters and induced 13 swinging strikes, allowing him to Atlanta’s lineup off balance for most of the night. His only real mistake came on a solo home run from Ronald Acuna in the third inning, on a slider that hung up over the middle of the plate. His loss was of the hard luck variety, as it was due to a lack of run support. Otherwise, Snell has been outstanding over his last six starts, allowing two runs or fewer in each while posting a 4.78 K/BB over that span. Snell is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three career starts against Baltimore,

Dylan Bundy allowed seven runs on five hits and two walks while not recording an out in the 15-7 loss to Kansas City on Tuesday. Bundy allowed four home runs over over a seven batter span, and managed to do so with only 28 pitches. Over his last three outings, Bundy has allowed 22 runs (19 earned) on 23 hits (including nine home runs) across just nine innings. Bundy started the season with a fantastic 1.42 ERA across 31-2/3 innings — with 40 punch outs and only one home run allowed — but has recently looked like a completely different pitcher. Bundy has relied primarily on his 92 mph four-seam fastball and an 82 mph slider, while also mixing in a 75 mph curveball, 84 mph changeup and 92 mph sinker. The right-hander is 1-3 with a 7.61 ERA in six career starts against Tampa Bay. Key Matchups: Carlos Gomez (1-4), Brad Miller (4-11, 2B, HR, RBI), Mallex Smith (4-7, RBI, BB), Joey Wendle (2-3, 2B, RBI)

You can read about the series in our preview.

The New What Next: Rays vs Orioles — a series preview, part two

Rays 5/13/18 Starting Lineup

Span LF
Cron DH
Wendle 2B
Ramos C
Duffy 3B
Miller 1B
Hechavarria SS
Smith CF
Refsnyder RF
Snell LHP


— Carlos Gomez will have today off, while Wilson Ramos — who can tie the franchise record for consecutive games with a hit at 19 (Jason Bartlett, 2009) — will hit cleanup.

— Congratulations are in order to two-way prospect Brendan McKay, who was promoted to advanced Class-A Charlotte Stone Crabs, effective Monday.

McKay has performed to a 2-0 record and a 1.09 ERA across six starts (24-2/3 innings). The southpaw has allowed just eight hits and two walks, while striking out 40.

At the plate, McKay has hit .254 with a homer, 16 RBI, 28 walks (compared to 13 strikeouts), a .484 OBP and an .817 OPS.

From the beginning we’ve know this is a really unique player, and the two-way profile means there’s a lot of uncharted territory for his development path, Rays senior VP Chaim Bloom told Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times).”But it was just clear to everybody that he is more than advanced enough to have earned this promotion. The approach he has shown on both sides of the ball, to say nothing of the performance, has been exceptional.

McKay, signed for a $7,005,000 bonus after being the overall number four pick in the 2017 draft, is slated to take the mound for the Stone Crabs on Friday, and will his other time between first base and designated hitter.

Bloom continued,

The results we’ve seen have been so phenomenal that he would be really hard-pressed to match that as a hitter. But he’s shown such as advanced approach at the plate, in fact to the point it felt at time he was being pitched around at that level.

— Sigh, because it needs to be mentioned again…

By now you are likely aware of the recent comments by former face of the franchise, Evan Longoria, which you can read here. Rays hurler Chris Archer followed with similar sentiment before his start on Saturday. Both players made a few great points, although they, by and large, missed the mark with their tone deaf comments.

What follows is what I wrote in response yesterday (albeit slightly edited), since it all relates:

Our market size is not comparable to others, although we are the 13th largest media market in the country — ahead of Portland (22), Las Vegas (40), Charlotte and Nashville. Longoria seems to have forgotten that Major League Baseball likely would not allow for the relocation of a team from a larger media market to a smaller one.

What’s more, sports fans in the Tampa Bay region have three professional teams — not to mention a wide variety of outside activities — to support with our remaining disposable income. As it was stated elsewhere, the Tampa Bay core is not as wealthy or populated as other pro cities with three teams. As a result, Tampa Bay has never had all three teams thriving at the gate.

There is a belief that pro sports can thrive here, which I agree with, and the Rays are clearly pulling a profit in spite of what others may claim; after all there is a reason Stu Sternberg won’t open the books. Yet there will always be a contrary perception since fans in the area choose not to drive across a bridge, regardless of where a stadium is located, to support the team. That is to say, the problem with attendance really has nothing to do with the current facility — although I do believe the Rays would do better with a new facility, even if just marginally so — or accessibility, rather it has to do with people choosing to attend games over the wide variety of activities in the area.

The bridge did not become longer over the last 5-10 years, and the traffic entering Pinellas is far batter than the traffic going in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, the Lightning has done a far better job at marketing the team, making it “cool,” and drawing fans away from both the Buccaneers and the Rays. If you haven’t noticed, neither team has done much to inspire their fan-base since 2013 (in the very least) and the attendance for both has steadily fallen.

I’m sorry, but the Rays biggest problems are perception and marketing, and rightly so — Sternberg, for better or worse, is the face of the franchise, and to be frankly honest he is an asshole. Just ask anyone off the record. Yes, the team could use a new stadium, however, that facility will be built in a community that commits the most resources toward the project, not the location favored by those who can, yet don’t, make it out to the ball park.

If both players have done one thing, it’s give Sternberg something which he will bandy about in order to build leverage, not good will, in the stadium saga. If anything, Sternberg should use Lightning owner Jeff Vinik’s example toward making the team vibrant, fun, and cool again.

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