Brett Phillips and the Tampa Bay Rays are diving into Tuesday’s contest 25-games over .500. (Photo Credit: Brett Phillips)

After mashing (and legging out) five homers en route to a 9-2 win over the Orioles on Monday, the Tampa Bay Rays look to continue their dominance over Baltimore tonight.

At 72-47 on the season, the Rays enter play 25-games over .500 and now have a 3.5 game lead over Boston in the division. They’ve won 12 of 13 meetings against the Orioles, who have dropped 12 in a row.

As Neil Solondz (Rays Radio) noted, “Tampa Bay hit five homers last night, and now has 51 in the past 25 games, most in the American League over that stretch. The Rays also have scored eight runs or more eight times in the past ten games. Yandy Diaz is expected to be back in the lineup after missing three games with an injured left thumb.”

Josh Fleming allowed two runs on six scattered hits and a walk over 5.2 innings against the Orioles. He fanned two and threw 62 of 101 pitches for strikes (61% strike rate). Collin McHugh worked two scoreless frames before Fleming entered the contest, and the southpaw got the credit when the Rays took the lead for good in the fourth. Fleming has had a couple of brutal outings in the second half of the season, but this was a nice bounce-back outing for him as he swings between starting and a bulk relief role. On the season, he sports a 4.86 ERA and a 4.24 FIP, with a 1.32 WHIP, and a 2.14 K/BB through 96.1 innings.

Tampa Bay has made another flurry of roster moves, selecting RHP Shawn Armstrong from Triple-A Durham, while designating Kevin Padlo for assignment to create 40-man roster space, and optioning Mike Brosseau back to Durham to clear space on the active roster.

The Rays traded for Armstrong at the trade deadline. The right-hander owns a career 4.65 ERA over seven big-league seasons. He has allowed three runs in 5.2 innings while walking one and striking out seven since joining the Bulls.

He relies primarily on a whiffy 94 mph four-seam fastball and an 89 mph cutter with a ton of horizontal movement and heavy sink, while also mixing in an 84 mph hard curveball with slight glove-side movement.

The New What Next

Drew Rasmussen (1-0, 3.81 ERA with Tampa Bay; 1-1, 3.98 ERA overall) will take the mound for the Rays, pitching opposite of John Means (5-4, 3.21 ERA).

Drew Rasmussen struck out four over four innings of one-run ball while starting on Thursday in Boston. Following Ryan Yarbrough’s placement on the COVID-19 Injured List, Rasmussen will pick up another turn through the rotation. Even if Yarbrough makes it back from the IL for next weekend’s series against Chicago, Rasmussen could remain in the rotation if he performs well against Baltimore, given the extent to which back-end starters Josh Fleming and Michael Wacha have struggled of late. Rasmussen should throw around 60-to-75 pitches Tuesday after he was pulled after 50 pitches in last week’s start.

John Means allowed six runs on eight hits and a walk across 4.1 innings on Thursday against the Tigers, fanning three. Means was coming off back-to-back starts allowing just one earned run, however, his issues with the long ball resurfaced, as he surrendered three homers and now has given up at least two long balls in six of his last nine outings. The left-hander saw his ERA climb to 3.21 following this outing, and he has given up at least four runs in three of his last five starts. Means is 0-1 with a 5.51 ERA in three starts against Tampa Bay this season. Key Matchups: (Randy Arozarena (3-7, 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI), Mike Brosseau (5-11, 4 RBI, 6 RBI), Yandy Diaz (4-13, 2 2B, HR, RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (4-11, 2B, 2 RBI), Jordan Luplow (2-7, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB), Manuel Margot (4-8, BB), Joey Wendle (2-7)

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

Rays 8/17/21 Starting Lineup

  1. Arozarena LF
  2. Cruz DH
  3. Franco SS
  4. Diaz 3B
  5. Margot RF
  6. B. Lowe 2B
  7. Zunino C
  8. Luplow 1B
  9. Kiermaier CF
  10. Rasmussen RHP

Noteworthiness

— Chris Archer will pitch tonight for Durham. The right-hander could get stretched out to four innings or 60 pitches as he gets closer to joining Tampa Bay.

— Ryan Thompson and J.P. Feyereisen are scheduled to pitch on Thursday for the Bulls after throwing a scoreless inning apiece in Port Charlotte, in the FCL.

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