Following a season-worst 10-9, 12-inning loss on Saturday, the Tampa Bay Rays look to bounce back in the rubber match on Sunday and take the series from the Blue Jays. Tampa Bay enters play a half-game behind Oakland and Boston for the final playoff spot after both teams won yesterday.
I’ve said it twice before, but I’ll say it again: a series win in Toronto, and a good showing in the first game of the upcoming series in Boston, on Tuesday, could push the front office to look to the trade market to acquire players to bolster the roster, including arms for the rotation…but more importantly, the bullpen.
In all, the Rays bullpen allowed five late home runs in the loss, accounting for the game’s final seven runs. All five homers can be attributed to relievers Hunter Wood (who allowed a pair of two-out homers), Oliver Drake (who allowed a three-run homer), and Colin Poche and Emilio Pagan (each of whom allowed solo shots).
Poche’s limited repertoire (the southpaw relies on his fastball 93.5% of the time) and too-frequent mistakes are costing the Rays games in the present tense. For his part, Kevin Cash took the blame for putting the left-hander in a bad position, saying that he favored the left-on-righty matchup as opposed to placing de facto closer, Emilio Pagan, into the game in the ninth.
In theory, we liked the matchups that we had, but they made us pay for them.— Kevin Cash
Still, they lost a game that was reminiscent of another bitter loss in Toronto last September, when the Rays allowed a six-run lead to evaporate in the ninth inning and dropped the ballgame. Yesterday, Tampa Bay had a 9-3 advantage with four outs needed and couldn’t hold it. Yet the Rays enter the day 6-2 against the Blue Jays in the season series, and they could leave Toronto on a high note, and with momentum, going into Boston having won the series.
The New What Next
Yonny Chirinos (8-5, 3.29 ERA) will get the ball this afternoon, pitching opposite of Aaron Sanchez (3-14, 6.06 ERA).
Yonny Chirinos allowed just two runs on six hits and no walks over 5-2/3 innings against the Red Sox on Tuesday. He struck out five. Chirinos all his damage on three hits and a wild pitch in the first inning, and settled in after that, allowing only three baserunners across the next four-plus frames. The right-hander has a 3.29 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and a 4.25 K/BB across 117-2/3 innings. Chirinos is 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA in four career outings (one start) against the Blue Jays.
Aaron Sanchez allowed one run on five hits with zero walks and six strikeouts across five innings against Cleveland on Tuesday. The performance broke a 10-game losing streak. Before Tuesday, the last time Sanchez received anything but a loss was May 22, and the last time he captured a victory was April 27. Sanchez is 3-14 with a 6.06 ERA, 1.72 WHIP, and 89 strikeouts across 107 innings this season. Sanchez is 2-3 with a 2.02 ERA in his career against Tampa Bay, and 0-1 on the season after the Rays tagged him for six hits and two walks in a three-inning outing earlier this year. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (3-5), Travis d’Arnaud (1-1), Brandon Lowe (1-3, 2 BB), Austin Meadows (2-2, RBI), Tommy Pham (1-1, 2B)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below.
Rays 7/28/19 Starting Lineup
- Choi DH
- Pham LF
- Meadows RF
- d’Arnaud C
- N. Lowe 1B
- Duffy 3B
- Wendle 2B
- Heredia CF
- Adames SS
— Needing a fresh arm in the ‘pen, the Rays recalled Jake Faria from Triple-A Durham. They optioned C Michael Perez as the corresponding move.
— Kevin Kiermaier (left thumb sprain) went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts at DH as he began a short rehab assignment for the Class-A Charlotte Stone Crabs on Saturday in Clearwater. He is scheduled to play nine innings in centerfield today and should be reinstated from the Injured List when eligible on Wednesday, in Boston.
— Daniel Robertson (right knee surgery) moved his rehab assignment to Triple-A Durham and went 1-for-3 with a home run. He played all nine innings at short.
— Anthony Banda (Tommy John surgery) is approaching the end of his rehab assignment, having gone 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA since moving up to Durham. He is an option to help at some point this season, presumably ahead of Jose De Leon, who is 1-1 with a 3.47 ERA in 12 games in Durham.