You’d think a series victory would leave us feeling some sense of calm, after all Tampa Bay took two out of three from the Twins. But, at this point in the season, a series victory isn’t enough — especially when the Rays start the day with a half game lead over the Indians in the Wildcard race. No, the Rays should have swept the Twins. Sunday’s loss left a bitter taste in the collective mouths of every Rays fan.
In the post game show following Sunday’s finale, Neil Solondz brought up the point that our ire shouldn’t be pointed solely at Joel Petalta — after all David Price allowed base runners in the seventh, and Jake McGee allowed those inherited runners to score. Furthermore, the Rays offense did nothing with a pair of bases loaded opportunities. However, I’d also argue that Peralta allowed three runs in the eighth — all with two outs, and all when the bases were empty.
The job of the relief staff isn’t to continue where the previous pitcher left off. Rather, their job is to clean up the mess, or hold the game over for the offense. Peralta had no mess to cleanup, other than his own. This loss should be placed firmly on his, and Maddon’s, shoulders. JoMa should have put a fresh Alex Torres in the game. In the end, a team in the midst of important baseball should not be losing games like this.
The only consolation: Texas, who is tied with Tampa Bay for the top Wildcard spot, comes in to town for a four game battle, starting Monday. Like the Rays, the Rangers haven’t found much success of late, having won only three of their last 15 games. Also like the Rays, the Rangers offense has been strapped — Texas has averaged only 3.6 runs per game over that stretch.
In short, this is an incredibly important series. If the good guys can win, they can take sole possession of the top Wildcard spot, giving them a little breathing room. If they lose? Well, the opposite is true. If one thing is true, it’s that there is little to no margin of error — with a half game lead over the Indians, Tampa Bay has scant wiggle room at best.
Matt Garza: Per Rotowire, “Garza was ejected from Friday’s game in the eighth inning after arguing balls and strikes from the dugout, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.” Welcome home Matt, it’s good to see you’re still a head case. Key match-ups: David DeJesus (6-20, 3B, 3 RBI, 4 BB), Matt Joyce (1-2, 2B), Luke Scott (4-16, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 5 BB), Delmon Young (2-5, RBI).
Nick Tepesch: Per Rotowire, “Rangers manager Ron Washington said Tuesday that Tepesch is the team’s tentative No. 5 starter, Anthony Andro of FOXSportsSouthwest.com reports.” Tepesch gave up one run on four hits in his sole start against Tampa Bay, back in April. The Rangers RHP has given up four or more runs in seven starts since his last meeting with the Rays. Key match-ups: David DeJesus (1-1), Desmond Jennings (2-4, 2 2B), James Loney (1-3).
Derek Holland: Per Rotowire, “Holland allowed six runs on eight hits, walking one and striking out two while lasting just three innings in a 9-8 loss to Oakland on Friday night.” The Rays have put up some good numbers against the Rangers lefty, tagging Holland for 25 runs (22 earned) on 34 hits — including seven homers — in six starts. Key match-ups: David DeJesus (2-5, 2B, RBI, BB), Matt Joyce (2-3, RBI), Evan Longoria (9-24, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB), Delmon Young (6-15, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB), Ben Zobrist (8-25, 3 2B, 3B, HR, 7 RBI, BB).
Yu Darvish: Per Rotowire, “Darvish went seven strong innings against the A’s on Saturday, allowing just one run on four hits and one walk while striking out 10, but he was stuck with the loss in the Rangers’ 1-0 defeat.” Darvish has given up one earned run in 15 innings of work against the Rays. Oof. Key match-ups: Sam Fuld (3-6, RBI), Desmond Jennings (1-4).
- In their series preview, ESPN noted, “Texas (81-67) entered this month with a two-game lead over Oakland in the AL West, but a 2-11 slide has turned that into a 6 1/2-game deficit with 14 games remaining. The Rangers’ tailspin includes losing all six games of a homestand and never leading in any, including a three-game series sweep to the A’s, capped by Sunday’s 5-1 defeat.”
- The Rangers have gone 1-for-14 wRISP over the last two games (Cough, that sounds familiar). The Rangers stranded 10 runners Sunday and failed to get an extra-base hit.
- Matt Garza is 0-3 in four starts, losing his last two while surrendering nine runs in 11 innings. He gave up three runs with four walks in four innings of Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to Pittsburgh, turning in his shortest outing since being acquired in a trade from the Chicago Cubs two months ago.
- The Rays are 1-2 against the Rangers this year, with a -5 run differential.