After an 8-6, come from behind win over Miami on Saturday, the Tampa Bay Rays look for a sweep in the short two-game set against the Marlins, on Sunday. They have won the previous three meetings with Miami this season and can sweep the season series with a victory this afternoon.
The Rays have gone streaking, winning five consecutive ballgames and have scored at least six runs in six straight games — tying the longest such stretch in club history.
Tampa Bay enters play a half-game ahead of Oakland for the last playoff spot, two games behind Cleveland for the top Wildcard spot, eight behind the Yankees in the AL East, and five-and-a-half games ahead of the third-place Red Sox, whose chances of a postseason berth fell to a season-low of 24.1%.
Rays hitters slugged four home runs en route to victory, with two coming off the bat of newcomer Erik Sogard, who became the seventh player since 2000 to homer in their first two home plate appearances with a team.
Austin Meadows and Willy Adames also hit the tying and go-ahead home runs, which led the team to victory.
Tampa Bay went 4-13 with runners in scoring position (.308 BA), which falls in line with what the team had done in the three previous series.
Another crucial component of last night’s win, three key pieces of the Rays high-leverage bullpen came up big. Diego Castillo opened the game and worked around a leadoff double with a seven-pitch (all strikes) frame. Nick Anderson, who was making his Tropicana Field debut against his former team, struck out two in a perfect seven-pitch (all strikes) eighth inning.
And Emilio Pagan allowed a two-out triple in the ninth to Jon Berti but got Brian Anderson to pop out to right to notch his ninth save.
The New What Next
Yonny Chirinos (8-5, 3.70 ERA) will get the start for the Rays, pitching opposite of Caleb Smith (7-4, 3.43 ERA).
Yonny Chirinos allowed seven runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out four across four innings on Sunday against Toronto. The Blue Jays jumped on Chirinos for two runs in the second inning, two in the third, and three in the fifth, although the Rays offense put up 10 runs and ultimately win the ballgame. Chirinos uncharacteristically struggled with his command at times, firing 56 of 93 pitches for strikes (60% strike rate). Ideally, this is just a bump in the road for Chirinos, who owns a 3.70 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with 106 punchouts across 121-2/3 innings this season.
Caleb Smith allowed four runs on four hits and a walk over seven innings on Monday, while striking out nine. Miami’s offense staked Smith to a big lead with a six-run second inning, and he made it hold up. The southpaw maintains a 3.43 ERA and a 3.84 K/BB through 97 innings. Over his career, Smith is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two starts against Tampa Bay. Key Matchups: Jesus Aguilar (1-4), Ji-Man Choi (1-4), Avisail Garcia (1-2, HR, RBI), Guillermo Heredia (1-2, 2B, 2 RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (1-2)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 8/4/19 Starting Lineup
- Duffy 3B
- Pham LF
- Aguilar 1B
- d’Arnaud DH
- García RF
- Brosseau 2B
- Heredia CF
- Zunino C
- Adames SS
— Jose Alvarado (oblique strain) will pitch for the Charlotte Stone Crabs, his first outing as he comes back from his pre-All Star Break injury. If all goes well, the right-hander would pitch in back-to-back outings for Durham on Tuesday and Wednesday and could be activated during the upcoming road trip.