The Rays are 9-6 against the NL this season, although the team split a pair of earlier meetings with the Braves in Atlanta. The Braves, however, have won 11 of 15 games at Tropicana Field.
At 51-61 on the season, the Braves haven’t been the most successful, or consistent, ball club. Still, they totaled 22 runs in three consecutive victories over the lowly Miami Marlins… But that was before Atlanta was held to just three hits in the series finale on Sunday.
Fredi González will throw Williams Perez and Matt Wisler for Atlanta, opposite of Erasmo Ramirez and Jake Odorizzi (respectively). Ramirez (8-4, 3.83 ERA) has a 2.79 ERA in 15 starts since joining the rotation in mid-May but is 0-1 with a 4.50 in four since the All-Star break. Erasmo allowed five runs — all in the first inning — before settling down and retiring 16 of the next 18 batters in a 6-5, 10-inning road loss to the White Sox on Wednesday.
The first inning, it was just about like, how I just missed the spots, Ramirez said Sunday. I was ahead in the count, but I cannot finish … so they make me pay for that. Second inning was about just attack and finishing — both together.
The righty earned a 5-3 win on May 19 behind five innings of three-run, two-hit ball against Atlanta.
Odorizzi (6-6, 2.77 ERA) was on point Friday night, allowing one run on four hits, walking one and striking out six over 6-2/3 innings, but came away with a no-decision in the Rays’ 4-3 loss to the Mets. He has given up just seven earned runs in his past 23-2/3 innings (over a four start span; 2.66 ERA), while walking five and fanning 24.
Williams Perez: Perez (4-2, 4.48) has been hit hard in both starts since returning from a five-week stint on the DL after sustaining a foot injury. The rookie RHP has allowed 15 runs and 19 hits over 10-1/3 innings in losses to San Francisco and Philadelphia. He was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts) before the injury. Perez fared well in his previous start against Tampa Bay on May 20, allowing a run in five innings while not getting a decision in a 2-1 Braves win. Key matchups: Logan Forsythe (1-2), Kevin Kiermaier (1-3), Evan Longoria (1-3), Rene Rivera (1-2).
Matt Wisler: Wisler (5-2, 4.85) is 3-0 with a 3.65 ERA in four starts at home, but is only 2-2 with a 5.93 ERA in five road. Much like Perez, he’s struggled in his past two starts, giving up 12 earned runs in 10 innings against the Phillies and Marlins, including three home runs. The righty relies primarily on a 94 mph fly-ball inducing four-seam fastball, a 93 mph sinker, and an 82 mph sweeping slider. He also mixes in an 87 mph change to keep batters off balance and force weak contact, and rarely throws a 77 mph curveball.
— Asdrubal Cabrera is batting .463 in 11 games since returning from the DL July 28.
— Kiermaier said his injured right thumb is progressing. He put extra padding around it, and will use a thinner handled bat throughout the series, saying, “It’s pain toleration at this point.”
— The Rays are deciding on when best to activate OF Desmond Jennings, who completed a seven-game rehab assignment on Sunday(3-for-21, four walks) with the Triple-A Durham Bulls. Jennings has been out since April 25 with a left knee injury that required surgery. If they don’t deem him ready (and/or don’t need him to replace Kiermaier), Jennings could play another game or two for the advanced Class-A Charlotte Stone Crabs.
— A.J. Pierzynski is hitting .417 with seven RBIs over his last nine games. Nick Markakis also is swinging well for Atlanta, driving in 10 RBI in his last eight games and batting .386 since July 27.