Tampa Bay will walk into that horrendous stadium one more time today, on a three game winning streak, following last night’s shellacking of the Marlins. They’ve already taken this series, and they’ll attempt to sweep the Marlins for the second year in a row, on their own turf. The Rays pounded the Marlins by scoring 13 runs on 14 hits and six walks, while stranding five and going 6-11 wRISP.
What’s more, even if you took away the two dingers that Ben Zobrist hit, the Rays would still have outscored the Marlins by five runs. I still love watching the Rays consistently chip away at their opponent as a team, and chip away they did. True, Zobrist was arguably the face of the offense last night. However, everyone (for the most part) contributed to the cause, with six Rays scoring one or more runs. And what’s been evident the last few games, is that Tampa Bay has been able to exemplify that old adage, get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em home.
Following a lackluster May and a somewhat slow start in June, Tampa Bay has started to amp up the offense. I’m still a bit hesitant to call this a positive trend. Yet the numbers do look promising, and the optimist in me is psyched about the increase in production. I made a couple of handy charts comparing the Rays offensive numbers from May 25th to June 1st, and June 2nd to June 9th. Though I’d prefer to see the Rays slugging percentage (SLG), and the on base percentage plus slugging (OPS), higher than what it is, the Rays are starting to get those important extra base hits, and it’s showing. The numbers speak for themselves.
In short, the Rays are taking better at bats, walking more, striking out less, scoring almost twice as many runs, driving in almost twice as many runs, and hitting nearly twice as many extra base hits. We like this.
The Rays will throw James Shields (6-4, 4.27 ERA) on the hill against Anibal Sanchez (3-4, 3.19) in the series closer. Big Game James has reverted to All Fields Shields the last couple of games. He’ll try to pick up the pieces and return to form this afternoon.
You may recall the Shields three-hit, 13 strikeout win last season. He followed that performance up with a one unearned run 10 strikeout four-hit gem in his following start against the Marlins. However, Shields hasn’t been nearly as good lately. His ERA has jumped from 3.63 after losing consecutive starts against the White Sox and Yankees. Shields gave up six runs (five earned) in six innings against the White Sox, then allowed seven runs (five earned) in five innings of Tuesday’s 7-0 debacle at Yankee Stadium.
Sanchez has suffered from the same problem that has plagued the Rays starters: lack of run support. He’s given up three or fewer earned runs in seven of his eleven starts. Each of those games have been low scoring affairs, ultimately decided by one or two runs. However, Sanchez has given up 12 earned runs in his last three starts combined. Too, he allowed seven runs and eight hits over 6-2/3 innings, in an 11-0 loss to Atlanta on Tuesday. With that game, he dropped to 1-4 with a 4.64 ERA in his last five outings.
This should be another fun one, folks! The starting lineup is below. Let’s Go Rays!
Rays starting lineup: