After taking two-of-three from the Texas Rangers, the Tampa Bay Rays look to build on their success when they start a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night. The Orioles are coming off their first series win in two months.
Credit where it’s due, this past weekend the Orioles became the first team to shut out an opponent in consecutive games while scoring at least 13 runs in each game. Yet, they followed that historic feat by getting shut out in the series finale on Sunday, 2-0. Superlatives aside, Baltimore is one of the worst teams in baseball, performing to a combined .242 batting average (23rd in the league), .304 on-base percentage (26th in the league), and a .404 slugging percentage (24th in the league, while The O’s 347 runs scored is 25th in the league.
In spite of the fact that the Rays, offensively speaking, have played their worst baseball of the season over the last couple of weeks, they have fared well against Baltimore, winning three of their first five meetings. The Rays must take advantage of Baltimore, and regain some separation in the postseason chase.
Over the next three days, Kevin Cash will throw Ryan Yarbrough (7-3, 4.62 ERA) in a bulk inning role, Charlie Morton (8-2, 2.43 ERA), and Yonny Chirinos (7-4, 3.10 ERA). Brandon Hyde will counter with a pitcher to be named before the game Monday, Dylan Bundy (3-10, 4.91 ERA), and John Means (5-4, 2.65 ERA).
Ryan Yarbrough allowed two hits and no walks while striking out five across three scoreless frames on Thursday against the Twins. Yarbrough got unexpected work in the 18-inning marathon, although that didn’t affect his performance as the left-hander managed to work the final three innings without surrendering an extra-base hit. In his career, Yarbrough is 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in three games (15 IP) against the Orioles.
Charlie Morton surrendered five runs (three earned) on eight hits and a walk while striking out seven across 6-1/3 innings in his last start. Despite allowing a season high in hits, Morton only allowed singles. The right-hander had no problem missing bats, and he looked sharp overall against a potent Twins lineup. The 35-year-old right-hander maintains an All-Star worthy 2.43 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and a 3.53 K/BB on the season. Morton is 1-2 with a 4.41 ERA in four career starts against the Orioles.
Dylan Bundy gave up five runs on six hits and three walks over four-plus innings while striking out four on Wednesday. Bundy allowed home runs 18 and 19 on the season in just 84-1/3 innings (2.03 HR/9), setting the tone for a five-homer afternoon for San Diego hitters. He carries a 4.91 ERA and 3.00 K/BB into his next start, on Tuesday. This season, Bundy is 1-1 with a 2.19 ERA in two starts against the Rays. Key Matchups: Avisail Garcia (6-12, 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (4-14, 2 HR, 6 RBI, BB), Austin Meadows (1-3)
Yonny Chirinos allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits and four walks over six innings while striking out five on Friday. It was far from a sharp outing by Chirinos even though he, technically, tossed a quality start. The error that led to the unearned run was his own, while Chirinos threw only 59 of 105 pitches for strikes (56% strike rate) en route to a season-high four walks — for context, he hadn’t walked more than two batters in any previous outing. The right-hander still maintains a 3.10 ERA and 3.62 K/BB across 93 innings on the season. Chirinos is 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA in five career outings (two starts) against Baltimore.
John Means tossed five scoreless innings on Friday, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out five. This was his first start off the injured list after not having pitched since June 16, which speaks to why he was not allowed to go deeper into the outing while sitting at 84 pitches (53 strikes, 63% strike rate). Means now has a 2.50 ERA that ranks fifth in the majors behind only Hyun-Jin Ryu, Mike Soroka, Mike Minor, and Charlie Morton. However, his 3.94 FIP illustrates the fact that he may be pitching a little over his head. Still, he has been extremely effective across 75-2/3 innings this season. Means is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in one outing against the Rays this season (2 IP).
— Congratulations are in order to Austin Meadows and Charlie Morton, both of whom were chosen to represent the Rays at the 2019 MLB All-Star Game, in Cleveland!
Morton, 35, will make his second All-Star Game appearance, after his first selection last season. Through 17 starts, Morton is 8-2 with a 2.43 ERA, making him one of the best pitchers in the American League. His selection marks the 10th consecutive season the Rays have had a pitcher named to the All-Star team.
It was pretty humbling because I know a lot of my peers voted me to go and that means a lot. You kind of wish that more of your teammates would go, but it’s humbling.— Charlie Morton
As of Monday, Meadows is slashing .291 BA/.366 OBP/.516 SLG/.882 OPS with 12 homers on the season and has played a big role in the Rays’ first-half success. And though he has struggled to a .204 average in June, the outfielder did enough in April and May to become a first-time All-Star.
It’s been a journey to get here. To be able to do that now, it’s a true honor to be in that bracket with those guys. I look forward to getting out there, meeting them, picking their brains and having fun.— Austin Meadows
— After boasting an incrementally improved 17,840 average attendance over the seven leading up to their last road series (which included Stu Sternberg’s sister city proposal announcement), the average attendance plummeted to 13,948 over the first three games of the Rays’ current 10-game homestand. I have a sneaking suspicion that this might be blowback from the local fan base, which doesn’t particularly care for doom and gloom pronouncements by the team’s ownership. I know times appear to be bleak, however, supporting OUR team is incredibly important, especially as a way to take it to Stu, who is banking on your lack of support.
To the faithful who consistently attend games, thank you. To those of you who are just discovering how much fun this team is, thank you — I love seeing new faces at the ballpark!
Yet, to those of you who are boycotting the team with no clear messaging targeted at Sternberg, your message is muted…unacknowledged by Stu, who is largely tone-deaf. He, himself, was surprised by the amount of vitriol following his announcement. I’m not deterring anyone from doing what you do, especially if you’re boycotting the team, however, please be conscious of your methodology, and whether it is impactful.
Here are a couple of things you can do to help out in the sort-term:
- Sign Sam McGreavy’s petition, then pass it along. http://tampabayrays.co/a-petition-making-the-rounds-pull-back-stu-sternbergs-sister-city-proposal/
- Attend Brett Morgan’s annual Top Off the Trop Event. More information can be found on the flyer (below).