Jacob deGrom was fantastic against Tampa Bay on Monday night, yet the Rays pitching staff was able to outpitch both him and the Mets, allowing them to edge out New York, 2-1. Nate Lowe scored both runs in the victory.
With Tampa Bay’s win and the Yankees 11-5 loss in Buffalo, the Rays end the night 17 games over .500 on the season and with a magic number of one to clinch the division. What’s more, given the White Sox loss to Cleveland, the Rays lead the South-Siders by 1-1/2 games for the top record in the American League with five games left to play.
After abruptly leaving his previous start after two innings and three runs with a right hamstring spasm, Jacob deGrom was absolutely dominant, striking out 14 (tying a career-high) over seven frames, while walking two and scattering four hits. Tampa Bay, however, made those hits count.
deGrom struck out the side in the first inning on 10 pitches, although Nate Lowe earned a full-count walk to begin the second. Lowe moved up to third on Joey Wendle’s first-pitch double to the left-center gap before Manuel Margot hit a two-strike sacrifice-fly to center, scoring Lowe for a 1-0 lead.
Two innings later, Lowe blasted a 1-0 solo solo shot to center for a two-run lead. It was Lowe’s fourth homer in 11 games.
On the mound for Tampa Bay, Pete Fairbanks opened his second game of the season and threw 1-2/3 scoreless innings. The right-hander walked Brandon Nimmo to start the first, yet he was erased when he was caught stealing. All told, Fairbanks struck out two and threw 15 of 25 pitches for strikes (60% strike rate).
Ryan Thompson followed Fairbanks and struck out Pete Alonso to get the final out of the second. He took the mound again in the third inning and got the first two batters of the frame before former Rays backstop Wilson Ramos hit a single to right, signaling the end of Thompson’s night. Josh Fleming — who was slated to pitch the bulk of the innings — came in and got the final out of the third and allowed just a grounder in the fourth.
Even so, former Ray Guillermo Heredia battled back from an 0-2 count to earn a free pass, while Ramos hit a single to right on the next pitch, putting two on and moving a runner into scoring position. After Nimmo was hit by a pitch, consequently loading the bases, Jeff McNeil hit an infield RBI single that Willy Adames made a diving stop on, scoring Heredia and bringing the Mets within one. But, J.D. Davis lined to right on the very next pitch, keeping the Rays in front.
Fleming came out in the sixth and got the first two batters before Diego Castillo took over with Alonso, whom he quickly put away, stepping into the box. Castillo came out in the seventh and put down all three batters (all right-handers) in order. Ryan Sherriff worked around a two-out walk for a scoreless eighth, preserving the one-run lead.
Finally, Nick Anderson battled in the ninth to earn the save. The right-hander started the frame with an 11-pitch at-bat against Robinson Cano which resulted in a fly-ball out to deep centerfield. Alonso followed and got ahead of Anderson 3-0 before he struck out. Finally, Andrés Giménez popped out, ending the ball game.
The New What Next
The Rays will look to clinch the AL East title in game two of the series against the Mets on Tuesday. Blake Snell (4-1, 3.05 ERA) will get the start pitching opposite of right-hander Seth Lugo (2-3, 4.34 ERA).
Blake Snell allowed one run on two hits and a walk over 5-1/3 innings against the Orioles on Thursday. He struck out four. Snell was in line for his fifth win of the season in an eventual 3-1 victory, but after he exited the game with a runner on second and one out, Diego Castillo allowed the inherited runner to score. Snell tossed 73 pitches (47 strikes, 64% strike rate) in the strong outing, and carries a 3.05 ERA and a 3.6 K/BB through 44-1/3 innings into his final start of the regular season, on Tuesday. Snell is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in one career start (7-1/3 IP) against the Mets.
Seth Lugo allowed six runs on eight hits and no walks across 1-2/3 innings against the Phillies on Thursday. He struck out three. Lugo entered the game having posted a 2.65 ERA over 17 innings since joining the starting rotation on August 25, although he was unable to tame Philadelphia’s bats. The right-hander surrendered four home runs in the brutal outing, two of which came against Bryce Harper. In only 1-2/3 innings of work, Lugo yielded a season-worst eight hits and saw his season ERA balloon to 4.34. He relies primarily on a whiffy 94 mph four-seam fastball and a 94 mph sinker with slight arm-side run and slightly above average velocity, while also mixing in a 79 mph curveball with slight glove-side movement, an 88 mph slider with less than expected depth, and an extremely hard ground ball inducing 88 mph changeup. He has never faced the Rays. Key Matchup: Manuel Margot (5-6, 2B)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 9/22/20 Starting Lineup
- Tsutsugo DH
- B. Lowe 2B
- Arozarena LF
- N. Lowe 1B
- Wendle 3B
- Adames SS
- Kiermaier CF
- Phillips RF
- Perez C
— The Rays unveiled the 40-man player pool for the 2020 postseason. Below, you will find the player pool, including top overall prospect Wander Franco:
Catchers (4): Mike Zunino, Michael Perez, Kevan Smith, Ronaldo Hernández
Infielders (9): Willy Adames, Mike Brosseau, Vidal Bruján, Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Díaz, Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, Nate Lowe, Joey Wendle
Outfielders (8): Randy Arozarena, Kevin Kiermaier, Manuel Margot, Austin Meadows, Brian O’Grady, Brett Phillips, Hunter Renfroe, Yoshi Tsutsugo
Pitchers (19): José Alvarado, Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo, John Curtiss, Oliver Drake, Pete Fairbanks, Josh Fleming, Sean Gilmartin, Tyler Glasnow, Brent Honeywell Jr., Aaron Loup, Shane McClanahan, Charlie Morton, Trevor Richards, Ryan Sherriff, Aaron Slegers, Blake Snell, Ryan Thompson, Ryan Yarbrough