Another day, another loss. The Tampa Bay Rays dropped the series opener against the Red Sox on Monday in ugly fashion, 9-4. In doing so, the Rays start the day just outside of Wildcard contention by one game, and only one game ahead of the Red Sox with a tough hurler on the mound Tuesday night. They have lost six of the last seven.
The mismanagement by Rays skipper Kevin Cash in the third inning was staggering. Jalen Beeks, whose previous outing lasted 3-1/3 innings — and because of it, his time on the mound probably would have been brief considering the times through the order penalty — gave up a hit and walk to set up Boston’s seven-run outburst. By that point, Cash should have had someone warming in the ‘pen, as Beeks had labored through 15 pitches. The left-hander should’ve been yanked after Rafael Devers’ two-run double. Instead, Beeks stayed in the game and allowed three homers and coughed up five more runs in the frame, sinking Tampa Bay’s battleship early on in the contest.
I get it, the bullpen was thin Monday night, and Cash needed Beeks to throw more than 3-2/3 innings and 78 pitches. However, that was a winnable contest had the game been managed better. And with Chris Sale on the mound tonight, against whom the Rays have scored a total of 15 runs over the last three seasons, that was, essentially, a must-win game. Now, Tampa Bay will attempt to scratch and claw their way to victory this evening…something the team hasn’t been able to do since the All-Star Break, with the exception of the series against the Orioles.
To make matters worse, Yandy Diaz exited the game after he fouled a ball off his left foot. Diaz was reportedly in “severe pain” after the game and underwent an X-Ray, which showed a left foot contusion. He was subsequently placed on the 10-day Injured List.
Diaz becomes the 22nd player to spend time on the shelf this season. The injury could negatively impact a team that has had difficulty winning games over the last seven days. Through 339 plate appearances this season, Diaz has slashed .271 BA/.344 OBP/.482 SLG/.826 OPS with a 119 wRC+, 14 home runs, and a 1.6 fWAR.
There is a silver lining, however. Third baseman Matt Duffy has been activated from the 60-day IL. In order to make room for Duffy, Ian Gibaut was designated for assignment.
Duffy, who performed to a 2.4-fWAR last season, has sat out all season because of hamstring and back issues. He and Mike Brosseau could help mitigate the loss of Diaz.
In spite of the long absence, Duffy said he feels comfortable in the batter’s box. In his final rehab start, Saturday with Triple-A Durham Bulls, Duffy homered against Indianapolis.
Things can be a little different in the big leagues. It’s a different ball game, I guess, but I’m feeling good.— Matt Duffy
The infielder also said he is ready to contribute at any position.
I don’t really see myself as a third baseman. I see myself as an infielder. … We’re defenders, and wherever it is in the infield, I’m pretty comfortable.— Matt Duffy
The New What Next
Yonny Chirinos (8-5, 3.29 ERA) looks to bounce back from a four-run outing, pitching opposite of Chris Sale (4-9, 4.05 ERA).
Yonny Chirinos gave up five runs (four earned) on nine hits over five innings against the Yankees, striking out eight and walking two in the 6-2 loos. Chirinos couldn’t extend his run of seven consecutive quality starts but emerged with a decent line against a tough Yankees lineup that he’s fared well against this season. Even so, Chirinos is sporting a 3.29 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP, and a 4.04 K/BB across 112 innings. He has faired well in his career against Boston, going 1-1 with a 2.88 ERA in five games (three starts).
Chris Sale allowed two hits and two walks while striking out 12 across six scoreless innings on Thursday against the Blue Jays. Sale dominated the Blue Jays by generating 20 whiffs. Both hits he allowed were base hits, and he only allowed one runner to get into scoring position throughout his outing. While his 4.05 ERA is disappointing, his 172 strikeouts and 1.08 WHIP across 117-2/3 frames show how dangerous he can be to a team that hasn’t had much success against the southpaw. Sale is 9-6 with a 2.94 ERA in 17 career starts against the Rays, and 4-3 with a 1.92 ERA in nine starts at the Trop. Key Matchup: Yandy Diaz (4-6, 2 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, BB)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 7/23/19 Starting Lineup
- d’Arnaud 1B
- Pham LF
- Meadows DH
- Garcia RF
- Duffy 3B
- Brosseau 2B
- Heredia CF
- Adames SS
- Zunino C
— St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and deputy mayor Kanika Tomalin will meet this afternoon with Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg and team presidents Brian Auld and Matt Silverman for an initial discussion of the cockamamie sister city proposal. The team would need city approval to explore specifics given the terms of their use agreement at Tropicana Field.
On June 20th, Kriseman publicly poured cold water on the proposal in a press conference.
In the presser, Kriseman blasted the proposal, calling it “a bit silly” and dismissed it as a leverage building tactic in the negotiation for a new stadium. He vowed he would not recommend City Council grant the team permission.
He later said that if the team wishes to privately finance a new stadium in St. Petersburg for half a season, he would be willing to listen. However, he also said Pinellas County and the City of St. Petersburg “will not participate in the funding of a new stadium for a part-time team,” rather the city remains “receptive to partnering with the Tampa Bay Rays to redevelop the Tropicana Field site and build a stadium for a full-time team.”
Noah Pransky (Florida Politics) has been the most consistent reporter on the subject of the Rays stadium saga and was quick to remind readers that, in spite of what Sternberg has said publicly* over the last nine years, the Rays are following the same blueprint as every other owner in every other stadium campaign.
In fact, Sternberg would be remiss to forgo the redevelopment rights the city has offered the team in the stadium use agreement — just a year ago Stu signaled that he was not ready to honor that part of his contract when asked if he would give up the redevelopment rights should the team be successful in leaving the Trop before 2027.
I’ll leave you with one good summarizing thought ahead of this afternoon’s meeting, courtesy of Pransky:
“And the next time you see Sternberg and Kriseman firing shots across the bow, recognize it’s more about leverage on real estate rights than it is about where the Rays will be playing in 2028.”
*Sternberg’s long-shot proposal joins at least a half-dozen other major “non-threat threats” made over the last nine years. Pransky detailed five such “non-threat threats” extending back to June of 2010:
June 2010 – Sternberg says the only way “for this asset to be preserved” is a new stadium, and if not, there are “five markets” that would be better homes for the team.
Oct. 2011 – Sternberg says MLB will “vaporize” the Rays within 9 -12 years without a new stadium (it hasn’t).
Jan. 2013 – Sternberg suggests to Hillsborough Co. commissioners the league would move or contract the team if a new stadium wasn’t built.
Dec. 2014 – Sternberg says the team is “doomed to leave” without a new stadium, he was done re-negotiating with St. Pete (alas, he wasn’t), and he’ll sell the team by 2023 if he doesn’t have a new stadium.
May 2016 – The Rays will have to leave Tampa Bay if businesses don’t step up and spend money on MLB.