After winning the Interleague series against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays will go for the sweep this afternoon. Tampa Bay has the best winning percentage in Major League Baseball (23-12, .657), however, the Rays haven’t swept a home series this season. The team starts the day 11 games over .500 and in first place by two games over the New York Yankees.
According to Neil Solondz (Rays Radio), the start is also one game off the franchise record through 35 games (the Rays were 24-11 in 2010). Tampa Bay now has allowed three runs or fewer in five straight games.
Last night Brandon Lowe extended his current hitting streak to 11 games with one swing of the bat, on the first pitch of the game. Lowe gave the Rays an instant lead on a solo shot to center field.
Michael Perez, who was a late scratch from Tuesday’s game, has been placed on the Injured List with a right oblique strain. The team doctor confirmed the injury this morning.
Perez, who will be shutdown for 2-3 days then reevaluated, told Solondz the strain is mild and will likely miss 2-3 weeks. C Nick Ciuffo has been recalled from Triple-A Durham to take Perez’s place on the roster.
The New What Next
Charlie Morton (3-0, 2.52 ERA) will get the start for the Rays this afternoon, pitching opposite of Robbie Ray (2-1, 3.79 ERA).
Charlie Morton allowed one earned run on five hits and a walk while striking out nine over 6-2/3 innings on Thursday. Morton allowed four extra-base hits yet kept the Royals hitless with runners in scoring position. The right-hander generated an impressive 20 called strikes and 18 whiffs. Morton will carry a strong 2.52 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 48 strikeouts across 39-1/3 innings into the series finale on Wednesday.
Robbie Ray gave up five runs (one earned) on six hits over 5-2/3 innings on Friday, striking out seven and walking three. Five runs crossed the plate against the left-hander, but only one was earned thanks to three errors by his defense. Ray has made one career start against the Rays — a five-run, eight-hit, three-walk start lasting all of 4-1/3 innings. He relies primarily on a 93 mph four-seam fastball with natural movement and an 84 mph worm-killer slider, while also mixing in an 81 mph 12-6 curveball and a whiffy 93 mph sinker. Key Matchup: Tommy Pham (4-8, 2 BB)
You can read about the series in our preview, and Noteworthiness is below.
Rays 5/8/19 Starting Lineup
- Diaz 1B
- Pham LF
- Robertson 3B
- Garcia RF
- Zunino C
- B. Lowe 2B
- Adames SS
- N. Lowe DH
- Heredia CF
- Morton RHP
— After six pitchers took the mound on Tuesday, RHP Austin Pruitt has been recalled from Durham, while Casey Sadler has been optioned to clear space on the 25-man roster.
— OF Meadows (right-thumb sprain) was slated to work out with the team yesterday, but instead went to play in an extended Spring Training game. He will do so again today and if all goes well he is set to be activated on Friday before the Rays open their series against the Yankees.
— Hunter Wood (shoulder soreness) had a clean MRI and reportedly felt good throwing a bullpen session yesterday. He will throw in an extended spring game Friday and should be ready on Sunday, when he is eligible to come off the IL. Per Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times), manager Kevin Cash said they’d see how he felt after Friday before deciding if he’d make a second rehab start.
— Matt Duffy (hamstring, back) told the media his back is fine and his hamstring is about 85%, but he wasn’t comfortable going all out for the first time in a game. After playing a pair of rehab games over the weekend he worked on strengthening drills at the Trop and expects to start playing games again shortly.
I tried as hard as I could (Tuesday) to make it hurt and it went really well. That’s a good thing.— Matt Duffy
— Per Topkin, Brent Honeywell, who has been rehabbing from spring 2018 Tommy John surgery, was shut down from throwing again due to possible nerve issue in his upper arm, will see a doctor next week for testing. He was shut down in mid-April due to elbow discomfort and recently resumed playing catch.
— Far be it from me to say this isn’t pretty cool, because it is. However, the Rays marketing department should also splurge on some signage, logos, and flags for the businesses that surround the Trop. What the heck, make them readily available for people who live in the townhouses in the Edge and Warehouse Arts districts, and downtown St. Pete too. One thing I noticed about Wrigleyville when I visited Chicago, the businesses and homes in that area are blanketed in Cubs promotional items/logos/signage/etc.
Tampa is covered in Lightning signage, and I cannot think of a reason that we cannot have the same for the Rays in the Sunshine City.