Big RAAAAAAAANDY Arozarena clubbed one of the Rays three homers last night.

After clubbing three home runs on Friday, en route to a 7-3 win over Boston, the Tampa Bay Rays can move into first place in the division with a win this afternoon.

At 62-42 on the season, the Rays enter play 20 games over .500, and trail Boston by just a half-game. While Tampa Bay is 3-4 against the Red Sox this season, the Rays have won the last three contests between the two. They are also 25-8 in the last 33 games at the Trop.

Josh Fleming allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks with seven strikeouts across five innings against Boston on Friday. While it wasn’t a pretty performance by any stretch of the imagination, Fleming came up big when he needed to and escaped more than a few self-induced jams. He, and the rest of the relief corps, ultimately stranded nine runners on the basepaths. It was the first time the left-hander completed five innings since June 19, when he posted 6.1 innings against Seattle. Fleming still threw a few too many balls (40 of 99 pitches, 40% ball rate), and he saw his ERA (4.15) and FIP (4.37) inch up to go along with a 1.19 WHIP, and a 2.32 K/BB across 82.1 innings. Even so, it was a gutsy outing and something to build on.

Kevin Cash also turned to right-hander JT Chargois — who was acquired Thursday in the trade involving Diego Castillo — in the seventh inning. Chargois looked good, throwing 12 total pitches (nine strikes, 75% strike rate) while coaxing two weak grounders from Xander Boegarts (69.8 mph off the bat) and J.D. Martinez (67 mph off the bat), and a swinging strikeout of Hunter Renfroe on an 88 mph zone that ended up well off the plate. Of his 12 total pitches, Chargois threw seven sliders and coaxed two whiffs.

Tampa Bay found the power stroke once again, punching six extra-base hits (three homers, two doubles, and a triple) while scoring five two-out runs.

Yandy Díaz struck early, launching a two-run shot to left field that brought in Austin Meadows, giving the team a two-run lead in the first. Díaz now has seven homers and a .260 BA/.345 OBP/.480 SLG/.825 OPS with a .352 wOBA in 139 plate appearances since June 5. Compare that to no homers and a .253 BA/.386 OBP/.291 SLG/.677 OPS line with a .317 wOBA across 223 plate appearances prior to June 5.

Up 4-2 in the fourth, Mike Zunino belted a solo shot to right field, extending the Rays lead to three. It was Gator Mike’s 20th home run of the season and his first oppo-taco.

Later in the frame, Randy Arozarena destroyed a ball to left field, extending the lead to four runs.

All told, Tampa Bay went 1-for-4 wRISP and stranded two runners on the basepaths.

The New What Next

Ryan Yarbrough (6-4, 4.38 ERA) will get the start for the Rays this afternoon, pitching opposite of former Ray, Nathan Eovaldi (9-5, 3.49 ERA).

Ryan Yarbrough allowed just one run on five hits and a walk while striking out six across seven innings in Cleveland on Sunday. Yarbrough got his only real mistake out of the way early, as Cesar Hernandez took him deep to lead off the game. Yet he tightened things up and was excellent the rest of the way in his first quality start since June 27. Yarbrough lowered his ERA to 4.38 and his FIP to 4.16, with a 1.19 WHIP, and a 4.5 K/BB across 109 innings. He is 0-1 with a 14.14 ERA in two outings (one start) against Boston this season.

Nathan Eovaldi allowed two earned runs on seven hits and no walks while striking out eight across 7.2 innings on Saturday against New York. Eovaldi held the Yankees scoreless through seven innings but ran into trouble in the eighth when he allowed a leadoff double prior to a run-scoring single. When he was pulled from the game, he was staked to a 3-1 lead, yet the bullpen blew his lead and the game by allowing three additional runs to cross the plate in the frame. Even so, Eovaldi was excellent and racked up 22 called strikes and 14 swinging strikes on 100 total pitches. He has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of his last 10 starts — six of which he allowed one or no earned runs. For the season, the former Ray maintains a 3.49 ERA and a 2.48 FIP, with a 1.18 WHIP, and a 5.43 K/BB across 116 innings. He is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in one start against the Rays this season. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (3-10, 2B, RBI), Nelson Cruz (2-6, 2B, HR, RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (3-11, 3B, 4 RBI, 2 BB), Manuel Margot (1-4), Austin Meadows (6-12, 2 2B, HR, 3B, 3 RBI, BB), Francisco Mejía (1-3, 2B), Joey Wendle (5-9, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, BB)

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

Rays 7/31/21 Starting Lineup

  1. B. Lowe 2B
  2. Choi 1B
  3. Cruz DH
  4. Meadows LF
  5. Arozarena RF
  6. Wendle 3B
  7. Franco SS
  8. Kiermaier C
  9. Mejía C
  10. Yarbrough LHP

Noteworthiness

— Tyler Glasnow’s bullpen session reportedly didn’t go well on Friday. He will meet with Dr. Meister next week to see where they go from here. Per Jeff Passan (ESPN), Tommy John surgery could be recommended, but nothing is official yet. While there’s a “small chance” doctors will find a path toward rehab rather than surgery, Glasnow would miss most or all of 2022 if he ultimately undergoes the procedure.

Tyler spoke with Tricia Whitaker (Bally Sports), and suggested that it was only a matter of time before he would undergo a procedure on his elbow.

I realized there was no way I could go out there and pitch with this kind of pain. I see a doctor Tuesday, if they see something different, I’m open but all the signs are leading to surgery. I’ll see what he says Tuesday. I knew I was gonna get it eventually. It was to the point where I had to ask, Do I come back and try to do it in postseason? They have seen it’s a tear. I’m going into the appointment on Tuesday thinking surgery will happen.

– Tyler Glasnow

— The Rays can tie the season series against Boston with a win today. A victory would also give them a .670 WP% in the month of July.

— Tampa Bay could make a roster move today, potentially recalling reliever D.J. Johnson — one of the players acquired at the trade deadline. The Rays used four relievers on Friday night, all for one inning apiece.

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