The Tampa Bay Rays finished a brief, two-game series with Boston on a down note Wednesday night, falling to the Red Sox 8-2. They will try to turn their fortunes around when they start a four-game set with Terry Francona’s team from Cleveland on Thursday.
Coming off their two-game series against the Rockies, Cleveland was able to do two things the Rays weren’t:
- Drive in runners in scoring position.
- Split a series.
Tampa Bay is coming off one of the sloppiest games in recent history. And while there were only two official errors committed in Wednesday’s series finale, when you factor in two wild pitches and a passed ball, along with the two errors, five of Boston’s eight runs either came as a result of a gaffe or were set up by a mistake. Simply put, if the Rays still consider themselves to be playoff contending team, then these kind of blunders — coupled with their recent inability to score runs* — have got to stop … and now.
Kevin Cash will lean on Blake Snell (0-6, 4.98 ERA, 5.05 FIP), Jacob Faria (5-2, 2.81 ERA, 3.56 FIP), Chris Archer (8-6, 3.80 ERA, 3.24 FIP), and Austin Pruitt (6-3, 5.14 ERA, 3.67 FIP) over the next four days. Terry Francona will counter with Danny Salazar (4-5, 4.35 ERA, 3.96 FIP), Carlos Carrasco (10-5, 4.06 ERA, 3.67 FIP), Mike Clevinger (5-4, 3.70 ERA, 4.26 FIP), and Corey Kluber (10-3, 2.65 ERA, 2.43 FIP).
Snell was recalled from Triple-A Durham on Tuesday after being demoted a week or so back. The southpaw is expected to start Thursday in place of Alex Cobb, who was placed on the disabled list with turf toe (retroactive to 8/6).
Salazar fanned a career-high 12 in seven innings of one-run ball against the Evil Empire in his last turn. He has been great since coming off the DL on July 22, going 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 20 innings. Salazar has now allowed just three runs on eight hits and five walks while striking out 28 batters in that stretch. The Rays were able to torch the right-hander for five runs on six hits (including four homers) over five innings of work on May 21. Key Matchups: Peter Bourjos (1-4), Corey Dickerson (2-5, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB), Wilson Ramos (1-2, 2B)
Faria rebounded from a loss on Friday against the Brewers, notching a quality start while striking out nine over six innings of work. Unfortunately for the right-hander, the offense was blanked and he was tagged with a loss. Faria has nine quality starts in 11 outings.
Carrasco took the loss after he gave up five runs on six hits and two walks on Sunday. He struck out six. In 12 road starts this season, Carrasco is 7-2 with a 3.44 ERA and 77 strikeouts over 70-2/3 innings. However, the veteran right-hander has now allowed 10 earned runs over his last two starts (7-1/3 innings). He was pulled after just 3-2/3 innings of work against the Rays in May after he allowed five runs on six hits (including a homer) and three walks. Key Matchups: Brad Miller (3-5, HR, RBI), Logan Morrison (2-5, 2B, RBI), Trevor Plouffe (5-17, 2B, 3 RBI, BB)
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.
Pruitt nearly matched Chris Sale, working around a leadoff double to start the game, and facing just one over the minimum over the first three frames. Boston was able to touch the right-hander for a one-run rally, but he limited the damage, and worked around any trouble all night. Pruitt scattered seven hits (only one to the pull side) and one walk, while fanning five and holding the Red Sox to 0-for-8 wRISP.
Kluber pitched Cleveland to victory with his second consecutive complete-game performance in his last turn. He allowed one run on three hits with no walks and 11 punch outs against the Rockies on Tuesday. Kluber now has 13 straight starts with eight-plus strikeouts. Even though he missed a month on the DL due to a back injury, the right-hander ranks fourth in Major League Baseball with 172 strikeouts over 132-2/3 innings. Since his return, the 31-year-old is 7-1 with a 1.70 ERA over 13 starts. Key Matchups: Corey Dickerson (3-9, 2 2B), Evan Longoria (7-20, HR, 3 RBI, BB), Trevor Plouffe (13-46, 2 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI)
— Jake Odorizzi was struck on his heel by an Eduardo Nunez comebacker on his 89th pitch of the night.
Odorizzi was helped off the field without putting any weight on his right leg. Thankfully the X-Rays on his right foot were negative, and Odorizzi is listed as day-to-day.
— *As Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) noted, the Rays have been historically quiet at the plate lately.
- Only twice previously in 20 seasons of play have the Rays scored four or fewer runs over a five-game span: Four from May 30-June 3, 2014 against the Red Sox and Marlins, and three from July 2-9, 1998 against the Braves, Blue Jays and Yankees.
- The last time the Rays went five straight games scoring two or fewer runs was May 28-June 3, 2014. (They also did it over the end of the 2014 and start of the 2015 season.) The team record is seven, from Sept. 7-13, 2009.
- The Rays are hitless in their last 28 at-bats with runners in scoring position, their last a two-run double by Steven Souza Jr. in the seventh inning on Thursday in Houston.
- The Rays have scored in just three of their last 47 innings at the plate, starting with the eighth inning Thursday in Houston.
- Wednesday’s two-run sixth inning was their first with multiple runs since that seventh inning against the Astros.
- After averaging 4.76 runs over 90 games before the All-Star break, the Rays have posted only 3.24 a game in the 25 since.
— Willy Adames has performed to a .265 BA/.361 OBP/.401 SLG/.762 OPS/.346 wOBA in 469 PA with Triple-A Durham. He also has driven in 45 RBI, and crossed the plate 62 times. Dare I say Adames would make a nice addition to the Rays considering their lack of production at 2B in Brad Miller?