After winning back-to-back games against the Houston Astros, the Tampa Bay Rays look to cap an outstanding home stand on a high note. The Rays have won seven of their last eight games at the Trop, all against the Astros, Yankees and Nationals. Overall, they are 10-1 over their last 11 games at home, and 9-6 over a 15-game stretch.
Tampa Bay has allowed just four earned runs over the last five games — allowing two or fewer in all five, and pitching to a 0.80 ERA over that stretch — the first time that’s happened since 2008.
Houston has lost three straight just twice this season, and only once to the same team (New York Yankees, May 1-3). Sunday’s contest will determine the season series between the two, although it should be mentioned that Tampa Bay has not dropped a season series to Houston since 2008.
The New What Next
Blake Snell (10-4, 2.31 ERA) will get the start for the Rays, pitching opposite of Charlie Morton (10-1, 2.54 ERA).
Blake Snell slammed the door on the Nationals over the balance of his seven inning, one hit start after he allowed a pair of first inning free passes.
I got pissed; I was annoyed, said Snell on the subject of walking the first two batters.
The left-hander carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning until Anthony Rendon led off the frame with a double off the left field wall. Snell walked two more batters in the frame, although he was able to escape with the shutout intact. Snell fanned 10 and lowered his home ERA from 0.96 to 0.70, extending his club record by allowing just one earned run or fewer in a 10th straight home start.
Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) also dished some noteworthiness relating to Snell’s phenomenal outing:
Retired 18 straight, tying the third-longest streak of consecutive batters retired in team history, behind Matt Garza (22) on July 26, 2010, vs.
Detroit and Chris Archer (19) on July 29, 2015 vs. Detroit.
Made the 11th scoreless start of his career and matched the longest scoreless start of his career.
Reached double-digit strikeouts for the fourth time in his career, third this season. No other Rays pitcher has done so.
Became the seventh Ray to reach double-digit wins
before the All-Star break, first since Matt Moore (13) in 2013.
Allowed two runs or fewer for an AL-most 14th time this season, matching Washington’s Max Scherzer for most in the majors. And allowed one run or fewer for the 10 time, matching most in the majors.
The southpaw won a 2-1 game over the Astros in Houston, although he allowed a career-high seven walks.
Charlie Morton struck out 13 over seven scoreless frames on Tuesday against the Blue Jays. Morton allowed four hits and two walks en route to a win. The right-hander relinquished zero extra-base hits and threw 67 of 98 pitches for strikes (68% strike rate) in his dominant outing — the fifth time this season that Morton has recorded double-digit strikeouts. Morton now sports a 3.13 K/BB over 95-2/3 innings and a .195 batting average against, making him one of only seven pitchers in the big leagues to hold opponents under a .200 average. Morton has allowed more than three earned runs just twice this season. In his last start against Tampa Bay, Morton allowed just one run on two hits and four walks, although he is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA in two career starts at the Trop. Key Matchups: Jake Bauers (1-1, 2B, 2 BB), Matt Duffy (1-3), Carlos Gomez (6-18, HR, 5 RBI, BB), Wilson Ramos (5-14, RBI, 3 BB)
You can read about the series in our preview.
Rays 7/1/18 Starting Lineup
— Send pitching help, please.
After sustaining a lat strain on Friday, RHP Wilmer Font could be on the disabled list up to two months. The team, however, is not planning to promote anyone to replace him in the now (cough, again) two-man rotation.
Rays skipper Kevin Cash said the plan is to fill his spot in the rotation with another bullpen brigade, until RHP Chris Archer (abdominal strain) returns from the DL. Archer, who threw a 46-pitch simulated game on Thursday, and a 65-pitch bullpen on Saturday, is slated to make a rehab start Tuesday with Class-A Advanced Charlotte, with a decision pending whether he could return after that (July 8 in New York, or July 9 at home) or make a second rehab appearance.
It’s good, Cash said. He’s on his way back now. Hopefully no setbacks. He felt really, really good. Probably the most encouraged I’ve heard him talk in a couple of weeks about how his body felt. And obviously, the arm feels pretty fresh right now.
…Hopefully ‘Arch’ is going to be back here sooner than later with no setbacks, manager Kevin Cash said. It’s definitely not fun. It’s not easy to add another bullpen day or three-inning performance clumped together. We’ll just see how it shakes out.
— The Rays were the first team to plate more than four runs or collect more than eight hits against Justin Verlander since he joined the Astros last August 31.
— Even though they are still 13-½ games out of first in the AL East and 10-½ from the second Wildcard spot, the Rays enter one of their easiest stretches on Monday, playing 16 games against the sub .500 Marlins, Mets, Tigers and Twins.