After a frustrating 2-0 loss against the Detroit Tigers on Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays look to get back on the winning side of the ledger tonight at the Trop. Tampa Bay enters play two games back of Cleveland for the top Wildcard spot, but just a half-game ahead of the Athletics, who won 3-2 over Houston, for the final Wildcard spot.
Even though Tampa Bay boasts Major League Baseball’s best road record of 40-23, the team is just 31-29 at home. They have dropped three of their past four home games, and have been held scoreless in two of those contests. Overall, the Rays have not scored in 17 consecutive innings since Tommy Pham’s first-inning two-run homer against San Diego on Wednesday.
Making last night’s game all the more frustrating, a questionable strike three call made by the home plate umpire, which was the difference between a two-out, bases-loaded scoring situation and the end of the ballgame. With two on, Erik Sogard worked the count full against a struggling Joe Jimenez, only to be called out on strikes on what clearly appeared to be ball four.
And while a different outcome in at-bat wouldn’t necessarily have born fruit, it would have been nice to see the Rays get one more shot at a walk-off against the worst team in baseball.
Taking the last two losses into consideration, the Rays playoff hopes dropped to 69.5% per FanGraphs. Baseball Prospectus has Tampa Bay at a more favorable, albeit diminished, 76.9% chance of a postseason berth.
The New What Next
Ryan Yarbrough (11-3, 3.56 ERA) will get the ball for the Rays, pitching opposite of Jordan Zimmerman (1-8, 7.13 ERA).
Ryan Yarbrough threw 8-2/3 superb shutout innings against Seattle, scattering three hits and walking none. He struck out eight. Yarbrough needed just 99 pitches (73 strikes, 74% strike rate) to deliver 26 outs but was denied his first career complete game and shutout when manager Kevin Cash turned to closer Emilio Pagan to retire the final batter of the game. Pitching as a traditional starter for the first time in four outings, the southpaw flummoxed Seattle’s hitters all afternoon, allowing only a trio of singles and preventing any Mariner from reaching scoring position. The 27-year-old has now allowed one run or fewer in 13 of his 20 appearances this season and has not been charged with a loss since giving up five runs on June 13. He maintains a 3.56 ERA, a 0.90 WHIP, and a 6 K/BB over 98-2/3 innings. Yarbrough is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in a three-inning appearance against the Tigers.
Jordan Zimmermann earned his first win of the season almost 20 days ago after he gave up two just earned runs on four hits against the Angels across 5-1/3 inning outing. He struck out two. Zimmermann, however, was placed on the 10-day IL six days later with neck spasms. It’s been a rough season for Zimmermann, who was winless over his first 13 starts of the season. He returns to the mound sporting a 7.23 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP over 66 innings. Accordingly, Zimmermann has been the opposite of stellar over his career at the Trop, going 1-2 with a 5.32 ERA in four starts. Key Matchups: Jesus Aguilar (1-3), Ji-Man Choi (2-4, 2B), Travis d’Arnaud (5-17, 2B, RBI), Matt Duffy (4-7), Guillermo Heredia (2-3), Kevin Kiermaier (6-11, 2B, HR, RBI), Erik Sogard (2-3, 2B, 2 RBI)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 8/17/19 Starting Lineup
- Sogard 2B
- Pham LF
- Meadows RF
- Aguilar DH
- Choi 1B
- Duffy 3B
- Kiermaier CF
- Adames SS
- Zunino C
— On the rehabilitation front, Brandon Lowe and Joey Wendle are expected to play today and tomorrow for the Charlotte Stone Crabs. Both then will join the Durham Bulls on Tuesday after an off-day on Monday.
— As expected, RHP Trevor Richards has been added to the taxi squad, in expectation that he will be recalled Sunday. Richards will wear number 34.