After a magnificent, 4-3 walk-off win over New York, the Tampa Bay Rays will look to gain another game on the AL East-leading Yankees before the All-Star Break this afternoon. A victory would give the Rays a series split and a winning homestand.
The walk-off win was the second for Tampa Bay this season and the third victory for the Rays in 12 tries against New York. A few key events led up to the Rays win.
Blake Snell allowed one run on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts across five innings of work. Even though he didn’t get the win, Snell followed his 12-strikeout performance from his last start with another stellar, albeit labor intensive, outing. The Yankees worked the hurler over his 93 pitch (62 strikes, 67% strike rate) outing, yet Snell certainly didn’t get any help from the home plate umpire, who made more than a few egregious calls.
For the fifth time in his last seven appearances, Snell averaged more than a strikeout per inning, as he lowered his ERA to 4.70 ERA with 122 strikeouts across 90 innings.
Chaz Rowe, doppelgänger of the singer for System of a Down, actually pitched well in the sixth inning. He notched three strikeouts (two swinging) while walking one on a beefy, yet effective, 24 pitches (13 strikes, 54% strike rate). Why? Because “he wanted too.”
I guess you could say that Roe had his slider working on Saturday.
Down by one in the seventh inning, Nate Lowe hit his second homer of the season, a two-run blast to right field, giving the Rays a 3-2 lead.
Colin Poche got within a strike of his first big league save, yet Aaron Hicks spoiled the occasion, hitting a two-out, 0-2 solo shot in the top of the ninth. However, Travis d’Arnaud ultimately had the last laugh, hitting his own two-strike, two-out solo homer into the first row of the right-field seats — capping the ballgame with Dan Johnson-like heroics.
Tropicana Field has now played host to six consecutive games of 20-thousand plus baseball fans (yesterday’s attendance: 21,477), allowing the Rays to increase their per game attendance average to 15,385 — a difference of 802 fans per game over this time last season. They are one of just thirteen teams in the league whose attendance has increased over last season. In fact, the Yankees have seen their average attendance drop by 2,923 fans per game. A modest increase? Absolutely, but positive change is positive change, and I’ll take it.
Furthermore, Tampa Bay hit the 20-thousand home attendance mark for the time this season with another big crowd is expected this afternoon. For context, 20-thousand plus fans attended just nine of the 81 home ballgames last season. Tampa Bay IS a big league market…thank you fans for proving that point. Now, let’s keep things going after the All-Star Break.
The New What Next
All-Star Charlie Morton (9-2, 2.35 ERA) will start for the Rays in the series finale against New York, pitching opposite of James Paxton (5-3, 4.09 ERA).
Charlie Morton was dominant in his outing against Baltimore, allowing one earned run on four hits and a walk while striking out 12 across seven innings. Morton’s sole blemish of the contest came on a third-inning solo homer by Chris Davis, otherwise, he held the Orioles without an extra-base hit and didn’t allow a baserunner into scoring position until his final inning of work. It was his second double-digit strikeout performance of the season, and he’s now racked up 132 strikeouts across 107 innings of work. Morton has also supplied All-Star ratios, managing a 2.36 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.
James Paxton allowed one earned run on eight hits and two walks while striking out three across six innings on Tuesday. Paxton surrendered just a solo home run to J.D. Davis in his outing — only his second quality start in seven chances since coming off the IL in late May. Paxton was unable to generate much deception with his pitches, recording just 12 swinging strikes on 103 total pitches (12% SwStr). The left-hander is 3-0 with a 3.32 ERA in three career starts against the Rays, and 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA in two starts at the Trop. Key Matchup: Avisail Garcia (3-5, RBI)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 7/7/19 Starting Lineup
- d’Arnaud 1B
- Pham LF
- Diaz 3B
- Garcia RF
- Lowe DH
- Brosseau 2B
- Adames SS
- Kiermaier CF
- Zunino C
— The Rays are expected to place Jose Alvarado on the injured list today with a right oblique strain. The left-hander could be out two to six weeks depending upon the results of an MRI scheduled for today. Alvarado would be the 18th different player on the IL for Tampa Bay this season.
— Matt Duffy (hamstring) played five innings for the Gulf Coast League Rays on Friday and went 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI. After an off-day today, Duffy will likely play seven innings on Monday with the Charlotte Stone Crabs.
What he’s said to me is he feels the best he has all season long, so hopefully no setbacks, get him off and get him running. Let’s see how these first three, four games go before we start thinking when it’s time. He still has work to do timing-wise, but we’re thrilled he’s feeling better.— Kevin Cash
— High leverage reliever Diego Castillo threw a 15-pitch live bullpen session with third baseman Matt Duffy standing in prior to Saturday’s contest against the Yankees.
Castillo, who has been sidelined with right shoulder inflammation since June 23, hit 98-100 mph on the radar gun with his fastball. He will pitch on Tuesday for the Stone Crabs and could rejoin Tampa Bay on Friday, in Baltimore.
He’s going to take a couple of days off and will throw an inning on Tuesday, and if all goes well, we’ll anticipate him being activated for Friday in Baltimore.— Kevin Cash