The Tampa Bay Rays will attempt to recover after blowing two leads in a 7-6 loss on Wednesday, when they start a three-game weekend series with the New York Yankees Friday night. The blown victory ended a three-game win streak for Tampa Bay, which allowed the team to reach the .500 mark once again before falling back under. They’ll start the series 4-1/2 games behind Texas for the second Wildcard spot after missing the opportunity at a three-game sweep of the Orioles.
All isn’t lost, however, the Rays offense performed exceedingly well in Baltimore, and their success at the plate will hopefully carry over in the hitter friendly confines of new Yankee Stadium. Evan Longoria homered three times in the previous series, while Logan Forsythe has 11 hits in his last 14 at-bats. Lest we forget about Brandon Guyer, who is 9-20 in his last four games for the Rays, winners of five of seven on the road.
These will be three critical games, although the goings won’t be easy.
New York (74-58) completed a 5-1 trip through Atlanta and Boston with a 13-8 win over the Red Sox. The Yankees scored 57 runs and hit 12 homers in the six games. Stephen Drew was among five Yankees to go deep Wednesday with a three-run homer. He is 9-12 with two home runs and nine RBI in his last four games, while SS Didi Gregorius also homered and has gone 16-28 with 12 RBI over the past seven games. Rookie Greg Bird, filling in for the injured Mark Teixeira, hit his third homer, while Carlos Beltran is batting .357 in his last 16 games and has an 18-game hitting streak at home.
Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 3.18 ERA), the recently recalled Matt Moore (1-3, 8.78 ERA), and Chris Archer (12-10, 2.78 ERA) will throw for Tampa Bay. Odorizzi has gone winless in six consecutive starts since his last victory on July 28 against the Tigers, but he allowed three runs or fewer in four of those outings. The righty, who allowed four runs over 4-2/3 innings in a loss to Kansas City last time out, owns a 3.68 ERA on the road and 2.61 at home. Brian McCann is 10-16 with two homers and nine RBI versus Odorizzi, who is 0-2 with a 5.11 ERA in two games against the Yankees in 2015. Moore returned to the Rays from Tommy John surgery on July 2 to make the first of six starts in which he went 1-3 with an 8.78 ERA. That prompted the Rays to demote him to Triple-A Durham, where he went 2-1 with a 3.30 ERA in five starts. Archer collected his 18th quality start of the season Monday, holding the Orioles to no runs on four hits and three walks while fanning six in six innings to earn his 12th win. He is 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA in five career starts in the Bronx.
New York leads the season series 8-5.
Luis Severino (2-2, 2.17): Severino has carved out a spot in the rotation through his first five major-league starts, yielding two or fewer runs four times and completing six innings in the last four. The 21 year-old righty has limited opponents to a .200 batting average overall while allowing three runs (two earned) and five hits in 11 innings at home. Severino, who faces the Rays for the first time, boasts 29 strikeouts and 11 walks ― 10 in the last three starts ― over 29 frames. Severino relies primarily on his 96 mph four-seam fastball and 90 mph slider, also mixing in an 89 mph change-up.
Nathan Eovaldi (14-2, 4.17 ERA): Eovaldi got plenty of run support to extend his unbeaten streak to 13 starts, hurling five innings of five-run, eight-hit ball in a 14-2 win over the Braves. Not exactly a dominant performance from the righty, he actually entered the sixth inning having allowed just two runs before he was touched up for three more without recording an out. Since June 20, Eovaldi is 9-0 with a 3.32 ERA. Tampa Bay touched him for four runs on six hits and two walks in a 4-2 loss on May 12. Key matchups: JP Arencibia (1-3, 2B, RBI), John Jaso (2-7, 2B), Evan Longoria (1-3), Daniel Nava (2-2, 2 RBI).
Ivan Nova (5-7, 4.50 ERA): Nova surrendered seven hits, three earned runs and a walk in six innings in a 4-3 loss on Monday. The righty endured a rocky 2-4 August in which he posted an ugly 5.71 ERA, after allowing 21 earned runs in 33-1/3 innings. Although he only surrendered four fly balls Monday, two of those left the yard, ultimately serving as the difference in the loss. After a strong opening start in his return from Tommy John surgery in June, Nova has now dropped four of seven decisions. Key matchups: Kevin Kiermaier (2-2, 3B), James Loney (7-15, 2 RBI, 3B), Evan Longoria (10-32, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB), Daniel Nava (4-13, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB), Grady Sizemore (2-7).
― Expect to see more September call ups soon:
Ballgame. Bulls fall 11-7 in Charlotte and have been eliminated from the divisional race and postseason play.
— Durham Bulls (@DurhamBulls) September 3, 2015
― Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) questions whether the Rays should lock-up Kevin Kiermaier to a long-term deal.
― Logan Forsythe raised his batting average 16 points, to .291, by going 11-for-his-last-13.
― Steven Souza Jr., out more than a month with a broken left hand, is slated to take his first full batting practice Friday in hopes of returning next week.