The Tampa Bay Rays will attempt to roar back to life in a three-game set against the Minnesota Twins, starting Tuesday. The Rays put an end to a four-game losing streak by splitting a road series against the Oakland Athletics, while the Twins are coming off a surprising four-game split against the Kansas City Royals after losing at home to the Boston Red Sox.
After playing 21 games in 20 days, Tampa Bay finally got an off-day on Monday, which couldn’t have come at a better time. The Rays have lost nine of their last 13 games, including a three-game sweep to the Yankees.
They want it. Everybody wants it here. Probably can pick your own friends for a day, not have to look at everybody. Just to sit back and relax and regroup a little bit. Hopefully, we take some positives. We know a lot of things haven’t gone our way lately. The guys recognize that, but we’re still in a very good spot. We’ve got to continue to fight through it and turn things around.— Kevin Cash
Tampa Bay currently sits in second place in the AL East, five games behind the Yankees.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Twins in recent outings. If a home loss against the defending world champion Red Sox was disappointing, an even split with the Royals was undoubtedly surprising.
Kansas City currently sits in fifth place in AL Central, and their 27-51 record is the third-worst in baseball. The Twins were expected to win the series handily, yet the pitching staff allowed 10 two-out runs, while the offense went just 6-for-27 with runners in scoring position (.222 wRISP batting average).
True, the Rays have performed 18% under league average over the last 14 days, however, the Twins haven’t been an offensive juggernaut over the same stretch, performing to just a 101 wRC+ and a 2.8 wRAA. If ever there was a time for Tampa Bay’s pitching staff to show well, it’s now.
The Rays dropped three-of-four to the Twins between May 30 and June 2, in their previous meeting at the Trop.
Over the next three days, Kevin Cash will lean on starters Blake Snell (4-6, 4.40 ERA) and Charlie Morton (8-1, 2.31 ERA), and bulk guy Jalen Beeks (5-0, 2.95 ERA). Rocco Baldelli will counter with Kyle Gibson (7-4, 4.18 ERA), Jake Odorizzi (10-3, 2.58 ERA), and Martín Pérez (6-3, 3.91 ERA).
Blake Snell surrendered six runs on two hits and four walks while recording just one out in his last start, on Wednesday. The southpaw failed to punch out any batters. Snell gave up a three-run homer to Gary Sanchez and then issued three walks to load the bases before getting the hook. All three runners came around to score. Command has eluded the 26-year-old, who has walked eight and given up 10 runs (nine earned) in his last two starts. Snell is 1-1 with a 5.12 ERA in four career starts against the Twins, and 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in one start at Target Field.
Kyle Gibson gave up six runs on seven hits and five walks while striking out three across 4-1/3 innings on Wednesday. Gibson struggled mightily with his command, walking five batters and throwing a 38-pitch second inning. He threw only 49 strikes in his 94 pitches overall (52% strike rate), and now is 7-4 on the season with a 4.18 ERA over 14 starts. Gibson is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in one start against the Rays this season, and 3-5 with a 5.22 ERA across nine career starts against Tampa Bay. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-2), Travis d’Arnaud (2-8, RBI, BB), Guillermo Heredia (2-5), Kevin Kiermaier (6-14, 3 2B, RBI, BB), Brandon Lowe (1-3, 2B), Austin Meadows (1-3), Joey Wendle (2-6, 3B)
Charlie Morton was impressive on Thursday, allowing an earned run on four hits and two walks across 6-1/3 innings. He struck out six. Morton received little run support from Tampa Bay’s offense while he was in the game, leading to a no-decision. The right-hander continued to flash his ability to consistently miss bats, notching 14 swinging strikes over his 105 pitches (13% SwStr). Morton is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in one start against the Twins this season, and 2-0 with a 4.58 ERA in three career starts against Minnesota.
Jake Odorizzi surrendered four runs on seven hits over six innings on Sunday. He struck out seven and walked two. The right-hander gave up more than three runs for only the second time this season, but the Minnesota offense rallied to provide him with his third consecutive win. Odorizzi has a 2.24 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 3.54 K/BB across 14 starts this season. He is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in one start (six innings) against the Rays this season — his only career win against his former team. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (1-3, 2B), Guillermo Heredia (2-7), Brandon Lowe (1-3), Austin Meadows (1-3), Joey Wendle (1-2, RBI)
Jalen Beeks struck out one and allowed two runs on three hits and no walks over two innings against the Athletics on Friday. The southpaw struggled as the primary pitcher in his second straight appearance, this time giving up a solo home run in both of his two innings after giving up just one homer all season. After allowing four runs in five innings over his last two appearances, Beeks’ ERA has risen to 2.95, although he still boasts a respectable 2.63 K/BB in 58 innings this season. He is 0-0 with a 5.40 ERA across one career outing (3-1/3) against the Twins.
Martín Pérez gave up six runs (four earned) on five hits and three walks over five innings while striking out two in his last start on Friday. A late rally by the Twins took the southpaw off the hook for his fourth loss, but this was still the fifth straight start in which Perez was tagged for at least four runs — a stretch in which he has a 7.50 ERA and 1.82 K/BB over 24 innings. Pérez allowed six runs on six hits across 2-2/3 innings in his last start against the Rays and is 0-4 with a 7.49 ERA in seven career starts against Tampa Bay. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-3), Travis d’Arnaud (1-4, RBI), Yandy Diaz (2-6, RBI0, Avisail Garcia (3-6, RBI, BB), Guillermo Heredia (10-23, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB), Brandon Lowe (1-3, 2 RBI), Austin Meadows (1-2, 2B, 3 RBI), Tommy Pham (2-4, BB), Mike Zunino (6-15, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB)
— The Rays received some bad news on Monday. After feeling discomfort while throwing from 90 feet, right-hander Tyler Glasnow has been shut down from throwing. An MRI revealed right flexor inflammation, and he will be re-evaluated in three weeks. Glasnow threw his first bullpen session since suffering a right forearm strain on Tuesday in the Bronx and was scheduled to throw another this week in Minnesota.
Losing Glasnow for at least another month is a blow for Kevin Cash and the Rays, who saw getting the right-hander back from injury as a huge addition, after the All-Star Break.
— Infielder Daniel Robertson underwent his second surgical procedure in as many years, this time arthroscopic surgery Monday on his right knee to remove a loose body. Robertson, who was recently placed on the IL with right-knee soreness, is expected to miss four to six weeks with the injury.
— Per Juan Toribio (MLB.com), the Rays also announced that reliever Diego Castillo has been diagnosed with right shoulder impingement and will be sidelined for about two weeks. Castillo has been a big part of the Rays bullpen this season, but the right-hander has struggled mightily, posting a 14.40 ERA in six appearances this month. He was placed on the injured list on June 23 after allowing a combined six runs in back-to-back outings in Oakland.