After sweeping the Texas Rangers in Arlington, the Tampa Bay Rays will continue their final road series of the season in Toronto, where they are set to start a four-game set against the Blue Jays on Thursday. Toronto is coming off a series win against Baltimore, although they dropped the series finale on Wednesday.
The Rays steamrolled over Texas in the span of the series, outscoring the Rangers 16-3, impressively driving in six two-out runs and going 10-for-36 wRISP (.278 BA). They also clubbed four home runs, including a pair from Tommy Pham on Wednesday.
Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) surmised things well on Wednesday, writing:
The Rays still have a long way to go, and they are going to need a lot of help to get there.
But they continue to do their part to try to make it a race for the final American League playoff spot, beating the Rangers 9-3 Wednesday for their fifth straight win, 14th in 17 September games, and 23rd in their past 28 overall improving to 85-66.
More importantly, they crept within five games of the second wild-card-holding A’s, who hosted the Angels late Wednesday, having gained 3½ games in the previous four days.
Meanwhile, just when it looked like Toronto could string together a successful end of the season run, winning two consecutive series against the Yankees and Orioles (respectively), the Blue Jays were limited to one run on Wednesday.
Tampa Bay’s most recent wins have allowed the Rays to keep the pressure on the Athletics and Yankees. These next four games are no different. That is to say, there is no time to take the foot off the gas. Toronto has a fully capable lineup that can levy damage on opposing pitchers, and it will be incumbent on the Rays pitching staff to keep the ball in the yard, as they’ve done all season.
Kevin Cash has named just one pitcher in the series — Thursday’s opener, Ryne Stanek (2-3, 2.49 ERA), so it’s a bit difficult to project who will be pitching. Moreover, I’m rolling with the assumption that Cash will push Blake Snell’s start back a day so he can open the series against the Yankees. That being said, it seems reasonable the Rays will employ the bullpen on Thursday and Friday, while Tyler Glasnow (2-6, 4.22 ERA) and Jalen Beeks (4-1, 5.32 ERA) should see the bulk of the innings on Saturday and Sunday. John Gibbons will counter with Sam Gaviglio (2-8, 5.38 ERA), Sean Reid-Foley (2-3, 5.54 ERA), Thomas Pannone (3-1, 4.18 ERA), and Ryan Borucki (4-4, 3.86 ERA).
Ryne Stanek has opened 26 games this season, compiling a 2.50 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with 47 strikeouts across 36 innings in those appearances. He’ll pitch one or two innings before giving way to a long reliever.
Sam Gaviglio settled for a no-decision last Thursday, allowing two earned runs on six hits and one walk while striking out one across 3-1/3 innings. Gaviglio was pulled with one out in the fourth inning after throwing 53 pitches. He gave up a homer to J.D. Martinez in the second inning, now allowing at least one home run in five consecutive starts. Gaviglio’s ERA stands at a disappointing 5.25 for the season, along with a 3.03 K/BB ratio over 108 innings. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 6.32 ERA in two starts against Tampa Bay this season (eight innings of work). Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-3, 2 RBI), Jake Bauers (2-2, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB), Ji-Man Choi (1-2, 2B), CJ Cron (1-4), Matt Duffy (2-6), Kevin Kiermaier (1-4), Mallex Smith (2-5, 2B, RBI), Joey Wendle (3-4, 2B, 2 RBI)
Jalen Beeks pitched two shutout innings of relief on Tuesday, allowing just two hits and no walks. It will be interesting to see if Kevin Cash lengthens his leash since Beeks has allowed just one run across four combined appearances spanning 10 innings.
Sean Reid-Foley earned a win against the Yankees on Saturday, striking out 10 and allowing two hits and four walks across five scoreless innings. Reid-Foley totaled 92 pitches (55 strikes, 60% K/BB) as the walks inflated his pitch count a bit. He, however, was fantastic against a playoff-caliber offense. The right-hander was about 10 innings away from his limit for the season entering Saturday, so his start Friday will likely be the last of the season. This season he has relied primarily on his 94 mph four-seam fastball and an 84 mph slider, while also mixing in an 86 mph changeup and an 82 mph curveball.
Tyler Glasnow allowed the only hits on the night and struck out six over six scoreless innings, allowing the right-hander to pick up his first victory with Tampa Bay in nine starts. The only other baserunner against Glasnow came on a one-out hit by pitch of Rougned Odor in the first inning. Odor later swiped second base and moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch. He, however, struck out Adrian Beltre with two outs to escape the threat.
After the rough first inning, Glasnow found a rhythm on the mound and retired the next 11 batters he faced — taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
But with two outs In the bottom of the fifth, the right-hander allowed an infield single to Isiah Kiner-Falefa for Texas’ first hit on the night.
Be that as it may, outside of a bad start against the Toronto Blue Jays on September 5, in which he allowed seven runs and lasted just two-thirds of an inning, Glasnow has been strong for the Rays, allowing one run or fewer in five of his nine starts, and yielding two hits or fewer in five starts.
He was outstanding. I liked everything, Rays manager Kevin Cash said. I thought he was out of rhythm in the first inning, and I thought he did a nice job of kind of calming the situation down, getting the ball over the plate. He had the breaking balls, the fastballs going, and he threw some changeups. … He’s done just outstanding. The runs he’s given up, it seems like they come off solo home runs a lot, which is fine. Keeping guys off base, and if they’re going to get you, you’d rather it be a solo shot. With the exception of Toronto, we’ve been in every single game. He’s given us an opportunity to win every single game that he’s been out there.
Thomas Pannone allowed two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out six across seven innings on Sunday. Pannone got off to a shaky start after giving up two runs in the first inning, though he managed to bounce back and finish his day with six consecutive scoreless frames. The 24-year-old has appeared in just 10 games this season for Toronto (four starts) and owns a 3.77 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with 21 punchouts through 31 innings. Pannone has appeared in two games against the Rays this season, allowing two runs on four hits across 2-2/3 innings. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-2), Joey Wendle (1-2, 2B)
Ryan Borucki threw eight scoreless innings on Monday, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out seven across eight innings. Borucki kept the Orioles off the board, eventually exiting the game after throwing 105 pitches (67 strikes, 64% K/BB). He’s been a reliable starter in 15 starts this season, owning a 3.86 ERA and 1.33 WHIP with 57 strikeouts across 84 innings. The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits on two walks in his last start against the Rays. Key Matchups: Carlos Gomez (1-2), Kevin Kiermaier (1-2), Mallex Smith (1-3, RBI)
— Rookie outfielder Austin Meadows will be among Tampa Bay’s four additional call-ups from Triple-A Durham the club plans to make on Thursday.
The Bulls’ season ended after Tuesday night’s 14-4 loss to Memphis in the Triple-A National Championship Game.
Meadows batted .302 with 10 home runs and 25 RBI in 36 games for Durham this season. He also played in 49 games for the Pirates earlier this season, slashing .292 BA/.327 OBP/.468 SLG/.795 OPS with five home runs and 13 RBI during his first stint in the big leagues.
Very excited to see him, Kevin Cash said. I know what our staff feels about him, and the impact that he had down there in Durham for the month and a half that he was there. Excited to get him up here.
Meadows, however, may face limited playing time due to the logjam in the outfield.
It’ll be challenging, there’s no doubt, Cash said. We’ll just see how these next couple games shake out and go from there.
The team is also expected to recall LHP Hoby Milner, RHP Austin Pruitt, and RHP Chih-Wei Hu.