The Tampa Bay Rays avoided a four-game sweep in the Bronx over the weekend with a 4-2 victory on Sunday against the Yankees. Next stop Toronto, where they are set to start a three-game series against the Blue Jays.
Before Tampa Bay lost six of its last eight, the team took two of three from the Blue Jays — nine of 16 overall (including a series win at home September 2nd – 4th). The Rays need just one victory to win the season series for the eighth time in nine years.
The Blue Jays need to turn things around, and quickly, if they are going to avoid missing the playoffs. Toronto has lost seven of nine, and suffice it to say this will be a critical three-game set before the ball club to the great white north heads out west for a seven game road trip.
Kevin Cash will lean on Jake Odorizzi (9-6, 3.86), Drew Smyly (6-11, 5.05 ERA), and Alex Cobb (0-0, 4.09 ERA) the next three days. John Gibbons will counter with Francisco Liriano (7-12, 5.27 ERA), RA Dickey (9-14, 4.60 ERA), and Marcus Stroman (9-7, 4.55 ERA). Note: pitching matchups are subject to change; keep checking back for any updates.
Rays Series Starters
Odorizzi allowed seven runs on six hits and three walks while striking out two over four innings on Tuesday. Odorizzi was okay until the fourth inning when he walked two, hit a batter, and gave up a pair of singles before allowing a grand slam to Manny Machado. Still, Odorizzi has been Tampa Bay’s most consistent pitcher of late, going nine straight starts while giving up three earned runs or fewer entering Tuesday’s debacle.
Smyly posted just 3-2/3 innings in a start against the Orioles on Wednesday, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits and three walks. He fanned just two. The lefty has disappointed expectations this season, sporting a 5.05 ERA over 28 starts, although he’s done much better of late. And while his 1.28 WHIP suggests some back luck, the 30 home runs allowed (good enough for fifth most in the big leagues) certainly haven’t done Smyly any favors.
Cobb allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits over six innings on Thursday, striking out one without a walk. The righty regained his form by coaxing 13 ground balls to three fly balls. Unfortunately two of those fly balls left the yard. Be that as it may, Cobb has pitched well in two starts since returning from Tommy John surgery, issuing just one walk over 11 innings.
Blue Jays Series Starters
Liriano, after being demoted to the bullpen following his August 26th turn on the mound, will start Monday. He will take the spot of RA Dickey in the Blue Jays’ rotation. The Rays roughed up Liriano on September 2nd, tagging him for three runs (two earned) on three hits. Key matchups: Corey Dickerson (1-2, RBI, BB), Logan Forsythe (2-4, 2B), Kevin Kiermaier (1-3, 3B, RBI), Evan Longoria (5-16, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB), Alexi Ramirez (14-33, 2 2B, 5 RBI, 2 BB), Bobby Wilson (1-2, BB)
Dickey was slated to start Monday, but Gibbons decided to replace him in the rotation with Liriano for the time being. Dickey owns an unimpressive 6.23 ERA since the All-Star Break, including a 4.1 IP/4 R/6 H/3 BB start against Tampa Bay on August 8th. Key matchups: Curt Casali (1-4), Logan Forsythe (8-26, 2 2B, 3 RBI, BB), Evan Longoria (14-50, 5 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 6 BB), Mikie Mahtook (1-1, 2B, RBI, BB), Brad Miller (4-12, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB), Alexi Ramirez (5-15, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB), Steven Souza Jr. (3-12, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB)
Stroman allowed two runs on seven hits over five innings on Wednesday, striking out eight and walking one. Toronto scored under three runs for the fourth time in Stroman’s last seven starts, leaving the righty with little to show for his efforts. He looked good (coaxing 15 whiffs) however, a two-run third inning — including a solo home — was enough to propel the Yankees to a victory. The Rays beat up on Stroman over six innings of work on September 2nd, tagging the righty for four runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks, including a homer. Curt Casali (2-6, RBI), Corey Dickerson (3-12, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB), Logan Forsythe (3-10, BB), Nick Franklin (1-3, 2B), Evan Longoria (8-19, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB)
— Logan Morrison was diagnosed with a left wrist strain after fouling off a pitch in Sunday’s game against the Yankees. The team is expected to re-evaluate Morrison and provide an update on his outlook, however, Morrison doesn’t anticipate a return to the lineup this season, saying,
(I) Felt it pop on that one swing. More than likely, I’m probably done for the year.
Morrison returned from a strained right forearm on August 15.
— The Rays have recalled LHP Dana Eveland from Triple-A Durham, while designating RHP Tyler Sturdevant for assignment in order to create room on the 40-man roster. Though he didn’t fare well with the big league club this season, Eveland posted a 0.30 ERA with the Bulls.
— So you’re saying there’s still a chance… Any combination of a Tampa Bay loss or a Boston win the rest of the season will officially eliminate Rays from AL East contention.
— Troy Tulowitzki is 10-23 in his last six games after knocking in four runs on Sunday.