After an ugly 5-0 loss to Cleveland last night, the Tampa Bay Rays look bounce back and scratch out a tally in the win column.
At 59-58 on the season, the Rays are now 2-5 on their nine-game home stand against playoff contenders. Yet in spite of the loss, Tampa Bay still finds itself in a logjam for the last postseason spot — in a three-way tie with the Mariners and the Angels, and a half game behind the Twins, who’ve won six straight — and 3-1/2 behind New York, which has the top wild card. Kansas City is 1-1/2 games back, while Baltimore is two off the pace.
Per FanGraphs, the Rays are the favorite to take the last Wildcard spot … but not by much. Here are the updated playoff odds:
Orioles, Rangers 7%
That is, the Rays have a good team, and if they could start playing as they had in June and July, their first postseason berth since 2013 would appear to be imminent.
Chris Archer (8-6, 3.80 ERA, 3.24 FIP) will get the start tonight for the Rays tonight, pitching opposite of Mike Clevinger (5-4, 3.70 ERA, 4.26 FIP).
Archer held the Brewers to one run on three hits over six innings, but came away with a no-decision. He has made 15 consecutive starts of at least six innings pitched — the longest such streak of his career. The right-hander was in command of his repertoire and mowed down Milwaukee’s hitters over the first five frames, allowing just one walk and a hit in the process. It was an encouraging turn for Archer, who had given up a total of seven earned runs over his previous two starts against Houston and New York.
Clevinger will make his first start since July 31, when he allowed five runs in three innings against Boston. The right-hander was briefly moved to the ‘pen after he allowed a combined 10 earned runs in his previous two starts. Clevinger has just 1/3 of an inning of experience against the Rays, which came out of the bullpen in May. This season he has relied primarily upon 93 mph worm-burner four-seam fastball, while also mixing in a whiffy 81 mph slider, a firm 87 mph swing-and-miss changeup, and a 75 mph curveball.
Rays 8/12/17 Starting Lineup
— After suffering a left thumb contusion Friday night, third baseman Evan Longoria will not be in the lineup tonight, although he will be available off the bench to pinch hit if needed. Longoria tested out his thumb in the batting cage this afternoon, and though it reportedly felt good, he said the smart thing is to give it a day of rest.
— Even though Wilson Ramos is hampered by continued problems behind the plate, and a massive “six hits in his last 47 plate appearances” slump, there he sits in the middle of tonight’s lineup, hitting sixth. Ramos has just three home runs to his name, and his last one came against the Red Sox on July 6.