And that, my friends, is how you welcome Randy Arozarena at home plate after hitting a walk-off homer. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After winning Wednesday night’s contest in walk-off fashion, the Tampa Bay Rays look to sweep the Minnesota Twins out of the Trop this afternoon.

At 45-19 on the season, the Rays enter play a season-high 26 games over .500, 6.5 games up on the second-place Orioles in the division.

Andrew Kittredge, who is targeting a late July/early August return from Tommy John surgery, threw off the Tropicana Field mound this morning — something he has been doing for the last few weeks. Kittredge will soon progress to facing hitters in a live batting practice setting.

Pete Fairbanks (hip) also threw off the mound at the Trop and is expected to start a rehab stint shortly.

Tampa Bay made a roster move this morning, optioning Cooper Criswell to Triple-A Durham, and recalling right-hander Yonny Chirinos. Since Chirinos is close to five years of service time, and because once that occurs he must approve of any option back to Triple-A, he is expected to stick around.

Prior to being optioned back to Durham, Criswell had been on a nice little run. In his last 9.2 innings of work, he’d given up just two runs and struck out nine. He did allow five free passes, and it would be nice to see him bring his BB/9 down (1.8 K/BB over that stretch) — which he likely will work on at Triple-A — however, his results looked decent.

Yandy Díaz isn’t in the lineup because he is dealing with some soreness in his hip flexor. He’s available to hit if needed and should be in the lineup tomorrow, against Texas.

The New What Next

Yonny Chirinos (2-1, 2.79 ERA, 4.67 FIP) will get the start this afternoon, pitching opposite Bailey Ober (3-2, 2.33 ERA, 3.18 FIP).

Yonny Chirinos allowed three runs on three hits and a walk while striking out two over 4.2 innings back on May 17 against the Mets. Two of the three hits he gave up were home runs. Brett Baty took him deep in the fifth inning and then Pete Alonso crushed a two-run blast in the seventh. Chirinos has mostly been used as a bulk reliever this season and overall, he has been successful in that role. He owns an unsightly 1.00 K/BB though, but that is paired with a 0.97 WHIP, and a respectable 2.79 ERA (which is belied by a 4.67 FIP) across 29 innings.

Bailey Ober surrendered four hits over six scoreless innings on Friday against Cleveland. He struck out three. Ober allowed just one Guardian to reach scoring position, and he lowered his ERA and FIP to 2.33 and 3.18 (respectively) with his first scoreless appearance since May 5. The right-hander registered a 4.09 ERA over his previous four starts but he walked just five batters during that span. Ober relies primarily on a whiffy 92 mph fourseam fastball and an 82 mph slider that has short glove-side cut and some two-plane movement, while also mixing in an 84 mph changeup that has obvious arm-side fade and natural sinking action, and a 78 mph curveball that has sharp downward bite.

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

Rays 6/8/23 Starting Lineup

  1. J. Lowe RF
  2. Franco SS
  3. Arozarena LF
  4. Raley 1B
  5. Ramirez DH
  6. Paredes 3B
  7. Walls 2B
  8. Bethancourth C
  9. Siri CF


— My wife and I ran into some unfortunate luck with our cat, who had some major medical concerns. He wracked up a hefty $4,700 vet bill, which, suffice it to say, is a spicy meatball. If you’d be so inclined, please consider donating a few dollars via the GoFundMe campaign embedded below.