The Rays wasted a fantastic outing by Michael Wacha on Wednesday. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

Fits and starts, rinse, and repeat. After a 3-1, extra-inning loss to the Yankees on Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Rays are in salvage mode in the final game of the series this afternoon.

At 60-42 on the season, the Rays start the day 2.5 games behind the Red Sox in the division after losing three consecutive games — all by one run or in extra innings.

And while Michael Wacha tossed a gem (more on that below), it wasn’t enough for the Rays, who lost their first home series since May 13-15 which, ironically, also came against the Yankees. More concerning, though, is the health of Pete Fairbanks, who left Wednesday’s defeat with right shoulder inflammation. Additional information is expected this morning after he undergoes some tests.

Because of the injury, Fairbanks is headed to the 10-Day Injured List, and RHP Chris Mazza has been recalled to fill his spot on the active roster. Check back for any updates, as I will be, well … updating this piece.

Michael Wacha allowed one unearned run on three hits and a walk across five innings. He struck out nine — matching his season-high. The right-hander was pulled after just 79 pitches (54 strikes, 68% strike rate), although his nine whiffs also tied his season-high. Wacha didn’t surrender a homer for the first time since June 24 after getting taken deep eight times in his last four turns. On the season, Wacha sports a lowered 4.79 ERA and 4.74 FIP on the season, with a 3.47 K/BB and a 1.30 WHIP across 71.1 frames.

Tampa Bay, otherwise, went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, stranded five runners on the basepaths, and combined for a whopping three hits on the night. If I may, that’s not quite the recipe for success.

The New What Next

Luis Patiño (1-2, 5.26 ERA) will get the nod in the series finale, pitching opposite of Gerrit Cole (10-5, 2.74 ERA).

Luis Patiño got the start for Tampa Bay on Thursday and allowed four runs on five hits and three walks with four strikeouts across 5.1 innings versus the Guardians. He threw 66 of 98 pitches for strikes (67% strike rate). Patiño was alright, with the majority of Cleveland’s damage coming on a three-run homer in the third inning. Yet, Rays’ pitchers, including the right-hander, were able to hold the Guardians to 1-for-13 wRISP. Patiño’s ERA rose to 5.26, while his FIP currently sits at 4.18, with a 1.25 WHIP and 3.5 K/BB across 25.2 innings this season. He is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in one, four-inning start against the Yankees this season.

Gerrit Cole allowed three runs on six hits and two walks while fanning eight across five innings against Boston on Friday. Cole surrendered a two-run shot to Rafael Devers and gave up his three runs during the bottom of the fifth. The hurler was coming off back-to-back quality starts and had allowed just one earned run over his last 15 innings, yet he was unable to repeat that kind of performance in this one and failed to pitch more than five frames for the third time over his last five turns. Cole’s ERA rose to 2.74, while his FIP currently sits at 2.81, with a 0.97 WHIP and 6.38 K/BB across 125.0 innings on the season. He is 1-2 with a 3.26 ERA in three starts against the Rays this season. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (8-12, 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB), Yandy Díaz (8-21, HR, 4 RBI), Brandon Lowe (4-14, RBI, BB), Brett Phillips (1-4)

You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below. Note: I’ll post any updates on Fairbanks’ health upon availability.

Rays 7/29/21 Starting Lineup

  1. B. Lowe 2B
  2. Choi 1B
  3. Díaz 3B
  4. Meadows DH
  5. Arozarena LF
  6. Franco SS
  7. Kiermaier CF
  8. Zunino C
  9. Phillips RF
  10. Patiño P

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