The friendly confines of the Trop weren’t so friendly last night. (Photo Credit: X-Rays Spex)

After a tough 4-3 loss against the Rangers, the Tampa Bay Rays look to get back on the winning side of the ledger this afternoon.

At 80-64 on the season, the Rays enter play 16 games over .500, 0.5 games back of the Seattle Mariners — who also lost on Friday — for the second AL Wildcard spot, and 1.5 games back of Toronto for the top spot with 18 games left to play. Were the playoffs to start today, the Rays would face the Guardians in the best of three Wildcard series in Cleveland.

Corey Kluber got the start on Friday and allowed four runs on nine hits while striking out six and walking none over 5.2 innings. For the fifth time in a row and the 15th time this season, Kluber did not walk a batter in a game. Unfortunately for the right-hander, he gave up four runs on two big extra-base hits (a double and a homer) in the third inning, giving him 10 earned runs in his last 6.1 innings pitched. Kluber’s ERA spiked to 4.44 on the season, while he maintains a 3.60 FIP, a 7.11 K/BB, and a 1.19 WHIP across 148 frames.

Kluber received little to no run support last night. The offense got ’em on and got ’em over, yet couldn’t get ’em home despite a big night at the plate Francisco Mejía — AKA BABIP God — who went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI. Overall, the Rays went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, stranding eight men on the base paths. Hell, they even put up a .400 BABIP on Martín Pérez — 102 points over his season BABIP, and 89 points over his career BABIP — across his 5.1 inning/nine hit outing, yet they never received that all-important timely contribution when it mattered the most, particularly in the ninth inning when Tampa Bay had a chance to walk it off against Jose Leclerc.

No bueno.

The New What Next

Ryan Yarbrough (1-8, 4.38 ERA), pitching behind Shawn Armstrong (2-2, 4.70 ERA), will pitch opposite Jon Gray (7-6, 3.79 ERA) this afternoon.

Ryan Yarbrough covered five scoreless innings out of the bullpen on Sunday against the Yankees. He struck out three and gave up two hits while issuing no walks. Coming into the day, the left-hander hadn’t been expected to pitch, but the Rays needed him to mop up after starter Luis Patiño recorded just four outs before departing. Even though he was excellent in long relief, Yarbrough’s performance didn’t mean much since he entered the contest with the Rays trailing by nine runs. Overall, he maintains a 4.38 ERA and a 4.31 FIP, with a 2.90 K/BB, and a 1.33 WHIP across 76.0 innings. Yarbrough tossed a quality start in his previous outing against Texas, surrendering three runs on six hits (including two homers) across 6.2 innings.

Jon Gray (strained oblique) has been out since the start of August, and many assumed he wouldn’t make it back in time for the end of the season, yet he returned on the 12th in a contest against Miami and surrendered one run on three hits across 3.2 innings. He had a 2.65 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and a 10.7 K/9 in the 11 starts leading up to the outing when he incurred the injury. All told, he maintains a 3.79 ERA and a 3.37 FIP, with a 3.56 K/BB, and a 1.16 WHIP across 107.0 innings. Gray was dominant against Tampa Bay in his previous start against them, allowing just one run on three scattered hits (including a homer) across seven innings while striking out 12. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (1-3, HR, RBI), Yandy Díaz (1-2, BB), Francisco Mejía (2-7), David Peralta (18-42, 2 2B, 2 3B, 5 RBI, 2 BB), Harold Ramírez (1-3), José Siri (1-3)

You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below.

Rays 9/17/22 Starting Lineup

  1. Aranda 3B
  2. Franco SS
  3. Ramírez 1B
  4. Peralta LF
  5. Margot RF
  6. Mejía C
  7. Choi DH
  8. Walls 2B
  9. Siri CF