After an important 3-1 win in the series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Tampa Bay Rays look to win the set this afternoon. The Rays are 6-1 in the series against the Blue Jays, with 12 meetings left in the final 56 games.
Since both the Athletics and Yankees lost last night — no thanks to Kansas City, who couldn’t defeat Cleveland — the Rays start the day 1/2 game up on Oakland and Boston for the final Wildcard spot, and 8-1/2 back in the AL East. Tampa Bay is 3-1/2 games behind Cleveland for the top Wildcard spot.
A reminder: a series win in Toronto, and a good showing in the first game of the upcoming series in Boston could push the front office to look to the trade market to acquire players to bolster the roster, including arms for the rotation.
The undisputed heroes of last night’s contest were Ryan Yarbrough, who again looked sharp, and Travis d’Arnaud.
Ryan Yarbrough allowed one run on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts across 5-1/3 innings. Diego Castillo opened the game, but Yarbrough carried the load starting in the second inning, posting his seventh straight outing with either zero or one run allowed. He has allowed just four total runs in his last 32-2/3 innings of work. Yarbrough owns a 1.10 ERA over that stretch and has won his last four decisions. Overall, Yarbrough maintains a 3.78 ERA (down from 8.10 in April), a 0.93 WHIP, and 62 punchouts in 81 innings this season.
Meanwhile, with the scored tied at one in the fifth inning, Tampa Bay was able to take the go-ahead lead … and it all started with Willy Adames, who worked a one-out walk against Jacob Waguespack. Ji-Man Choi followed with a single to center. After Tommy Pham popped out, Austin Meadows walked, loading the bases and setting up the Rays hottest hitter.
d’Arnaud didn’t disappoint, punching a two-run single through the left side, giving Tampa Bay an unrelinquishable go-ahead lead. He, however, was thrown out at second on the relay.
It was the only hit Tampa Bay had in seven chances with runners in scoring position. All told, the Rays went 1-for-7 wRISP (.143 BA) on the night, stranding seven runners on base, but plating three two-out runs. As a team, Tampa Bay hasn’t scored more than four runs in 10 consecutive games.
The New What Next
Andrew Kittredge (1-0, 2.55 ERA) will open for the Rays, pitching ahead of Jalen Beeks (5-1, 3.69 ERA) who is back in the bulk innings role. They’ll be opposed by Ryan Borucki (0-1, 3.86 ERA).
The Rays have used an opener 86 times since May of last season. They are 51-35 in those games, including 19-12 this season.
Andrew Kittredge opens for the second time this season and fifth time in his career. Kittredge allowed three earned runs over 9-1/3 innings in his previous four outings (2.89 ERA).
Jalen Beeks surrendered eight runs on seven hits — including three home runs — and two walks over 3-2/3 innings on Monday against the Red Sox. He struck out two. All three homers came in a disastrous seven-run third, as Beeks saw his winning streak snapped at 10. It served as a reminder of why Beeks is better out of the bulk role when he only faces opposing batters two times through the order. The southpaw now maintains a 3.69 ERA and 2.32 K/BB through 68-1/3 innings on the season. Beeks is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in three career outings (seven innings) against Toronto.
As Neil Solondz (Rays Radio) writes, with Hunter Wood also available to provide multiple innings, and a day off on Monday, the Rays may be more aggressive with the pen than they were with Ryan Yarbrough on Friday, depending upon the score.
Ryan Borucki gave up four runs (two earned) on seven hits and four walks over 4-2/3 innings on Monday. He fanned three. After missing the first four months of the season, Borucki made his 2019 debut but looked like he needed a little more time to shake off the rust. The southpaw threw just 47 of 94 pitches for strikes (50% strike rate), and when he did find the plate he caught too much of it — four of the seven hits he allowed went for extra bases. Borucki is 0-3 with a 3.66 ERA in three career starts (19-2/3 innings) against the Rays. Key Matchups: Austin Meadows (1-2, HR, RBI, BB), Tommy Pham (2-7, 2 BB), Joey Wendle (1-4, 2B, RBI, 2 BB)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 7/27/19 Starting Lineup
- Duffy 3B
- Pham LF
- Meadows DH
- d’Arnaud 1B
- Garcia RF
- Brosseau 2B
- Heredia CF
- Zunino C
- Adames SS
— Kevin Kiermaier (left thumb sprain) will start a rehab assignment with the Charlotte Stone Crabs today in Clearwater. He is eligible to come off the Injured List on Wednesday, in Boston.
— Ryne Stanek is expected to throw a bullpen session either today or tomorrow. How he feels afterward will determine when he starts his rehab assignment.
— Daniel Robertson is currently rehabbing with Triple-A Durham.