The Rays will make their way to Boston Tuesday to start a big three game series against the Red Sox, following a disappointing series loss to the Kansas City Royals. I cannot emphasize enough that the next two series are incredibly important — the Rays have an excellent opportunity to gain at least a game on the Red Sox, while also getting a chance to bury the Yankees. It is incumbent for the good guys to make sure they’re clicking on all fronts: pitching, defense, and hitting. That all starts Tuesday.
Consider that it took 93 wins to clinch a post-season berth in 2012 — we’ll use that as a precedent for this season. In order for the Rays to reach the playoffs this year, they are going to need to play close to .600 ball. Frankly, there is no way that they’ll see post-season action if they continue to play as inconsistently as they have.
The Rays have called up Wil Myers, and the prospect of him bolstering the offense is enticing. After all, Myers has posted a .327 BA/.367 OBP/.673 SLG/1.040 OPS slash line in June, with five homers and four stolen four bases. However Myers can’t offer quality starting pitching, something that has been at a premium of late. Too, don’t expect the Rays to place Myers in the meat of the order just yet. Rays skipper Joe Maddon noted as much Sunday, tweeting,
“I don’t want to lump a bunch of high expectations on Wil. We’ll put him in the bottom part of the order and let him play, just be a Ray.”
If the Rays are going to make a pre-All Star Break run, they’ll need to come out strong Tuesday against a (relatively) slumping Red Sox — a team that has lost four out of their last six games, while averaging just under three runs per game in that span. That’s not to say Tampa Bay is somehow suited to dominate the Sox, on the contrary — the Rays have won only two of their last six games, while averaging only two-and-a-half runs per game. Remember too, Tampa Bay has hit .141 (12-for-85) wRISP against the Red Sox, including .092 in their seven losses to Boston. To be fair, the Sox haven’t quite dominated Tampa Bay. Four of the Rays’ losses to the Red Sox were by just one run. A timely hit here and there and the story could be very different.
Series update: Aceves will now get the early start against Archer, with Doubront getting the night start against Odorizzi.
Alfredo Aceves: Per Rotowire, “Ojos Diablo will be recalled to start one game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Rays, Jenny Dell of NESN reports.” You certainly don’t want to piss off good old Ojos Diablo, just see what he did in the WBC for team Mexico. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (2-6), Sam Fuld (1-3), Desmond Jennings (2-7, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 BB).
Felix Doubront: Per Rotowire, “Doubront has been named a starter for one of Boston’s doubleheader games against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, the Boston Herald reports.” Doubront gave up two runs on three hits, over a five inning span in his last start against Tampa Bay on May 16. Since that start, the Sox have won only two games when Dubront has been on the hill, though that’s really of no fault of his; Doubront’s relented — on average — 2.2 earned runs per game in that span. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (4-12, 2 BB), Desmond Jennings (2-8, 2B, 2 BB), Kelly Johnson (3-11, 2 RBI, 2 BB), Matt Joyce (1-2, BB), Evan Longoria (3-8, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 4 BB), Sean Rodriguez (3-11, 3B, BB), Luke Scott (3-8, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB).
Ryan Dempster: Per Rotowire, “Dempster allowed two runs on five hits and five walks, while striking out four in 7.2 innings, in Boston’s loss to Baltimore on Friday.” Dempster owned the Rays in a 7 IP/2 H/1 R start in April. Though he’s been fairly consistent of late, relenting — on average — 2.5 earned runs per game in his last four starts, Dempster went on a run where he gave up four or more runs in four starts between April 21 and May 23. Key match-ups: Matt Joyce (1-3), Luke Scott (3-7, 2B, 3B, RBI).
- Alex Cobb was released from the hospital Sunday following a minor concussion incurred in a game the day previous. Cobb has been placed on the seven-day concussion DL, and his upcoming start against the Yankees will be filled by Alex Colome who was recalled Sunday.
- David Price noted that he is making progress, but is not ready to start a minor league rehab assignment just yet. Price felt some soreness following a 25-pitch bullpen session Saturday.
“It’s not a setback,” Price said Sunday. “It’s just like after you throw your first live BP in spring training. You get that hitter in the box – you give that extra how many percent that you had that you usually don’t get in the bullpen, and that’s the way I felt yesterday… Definitely the way that I feel today, if you asked if I would have felt this good today, I would have been like there’s no chance,” Price said. “My entire arm was sore yesterday, and that’s just because I’m getting out there and facing those hitters after not doing it for a month.”
-More to come!