After dropping the third game of a four-game set to Atlanta on Wednesday, 7-4, the Tampa Bay Rays look to bounce back in the series finale tonight. At 4-2 on the season (11-5 adjusted record), Tampa Bay has gotten off to a good start, however, they have had to play from behind in five of the first six games, including last night.
Charlie Morton (0-1, 8.00 ERA) bounced back nicely from his Opening Day start, throwing five innings of two-run ball, allowing six hits, and one walk while striking out seven. He threw 80 pitches (55 strikes, 69% strike rate), and coaxed 13 swings and misses (24% whiff rate). Morton’s second start of the season was a marked improvement over his first in which he allowed six earned runs. The right-hander was hurt by a third-inning two-run blast off the bat of Freddie Freeman, although he held Atlanta scoreless in each of his other four frames. Morton was the beneficiary of three defensive gems during his outing, which limited the damage against him.
In the first inning, Ronald Acuña Jr. tried to score from first on a double to right-center. However, Kevin Kiermaier threw a bullet to Brandon Lowe, who then fired to Mike Zunino to cut down Acuña Jr. at the plate.
Then, down by a pair in the third inning, Kiermaier made a sliding catch to rob Matt Adams of a hit with a runner aboard, preventing another run from crossing the plate.
Finally, in the fifth inning, Manuel Margot made a leaping catch against the left-field wall to take away an extra-base hit from Adams and a run or two.
Yet, in spite of those slick plays, Tampa Bay made two costly errors last night and seven errors overall this season, resulting in five unearned runs — the most in the American League. What’s more, the Rays led the AL in run prevention last season yet, they have given up at least five runs in four of the last six contests.
Credit where it is due, Tampa Bay has scored at least four runs in each of the first six games, not to mention they and have been especially tough with two outs — 20 of the teams 37 runs have been of the two-out variety, including the last nine runs against Atlanta. However, the question begs: Is that sustainable? I’ll hang up and listen.
The New What Next
The Rays will conclude their regular-season series against Atlanta on Thursday. Ryan Yarbrough (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will get the ball, pitching opposite of Max Fried (0-0, 3.60 ERA) in a battle of southpaws.
Ryan Yarbrough got the start on Saturday and posted 5-1/3 scoreless innings, scattering four hits, and just a walk while striking out one. Leaning on his fastball, cutter, and changeup — with a handful of curveballs sprinkled in for good measure — the left-hander threw 49 of 69 pitches for strikes (71% strike rate). Yarbrough did what he is wont to do: miss barrels and induce weak contact.
Toronto Buffalo had a golden opportunity to break things open in the fourth inning after Cavan Biggio singled to right, and Willy Adames elected to go to first on Lourdes Gurriel Junior’s ground ball out to short — putting a runner in scoring position with just one out. After Vladimir Guerrero Jr. flew out to center for the second out of the frame, Travis Shaw walked and Randal Grichuk reached on an infield single that deflected off Yarbrough’s glove. Still, the lefty was able to coax a fly ball out from Teoscar Hernandez to end the threat. Yarbrough is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in one start (5.0 IP) against Atlanta.
Max Fried pitched five innings against the Mets on Saturday, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks while punching out five in the no-decision. Fried had a no-hitter going into the fifth inning before he gave up an RBI triple to Amed Rosario, who subsequently scored on a sac-fly hit by Jeff McNeil. Fried was taken off the hook for the loss when Marcell Ozuna tied the game in the ninth inning. In 2019, his first full season as a starter, the southpaw posted a 4.02 ERA and 173 strikeouts across 165-2/3 innings. He relies primarily on a whiffy 95 mph four-seam fastball bereft of movement and heavy sinking action and a whiffy 85 mph slider which sweeps across the zone, while also mixing in a 74 mph curveball with slight glove-side movement and exceptional bite and a whiffy 93 mph sinker with natural sinking action. Fried has never faced the Rays.
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 7/30/20 Starting Lineup
- Diaz 3B
- Martinez DH
- B. Lowe LF
- Renfroe RF
- Adames SS
- Brosseau 1B
- Wendle 2B
- Margot CF
- Zunino C
— It is not clear if Ji-Man Choi — listed as day-to-day with right shoulder soreness — will play tonight, or if he will get one more day of rest given that a left-hander is scheduled to start against Tampa Bay. Then again, he is a switch hitter, so…
— Austin Meadows hit in the batting cages in Port Charlotte yesterday, threw to 150 feet, went through defensive drills, took four at-bats in a simulated game, played both corner outfield positions, and ran the bases a couple of times. Meadows is projected to return in 5-7 days, during the team’s upcoming homestand.
— Per Neil Solondz (Rays Radio), Randy Arozarena, who missed summer camp due to testing positive at intake testing, began his rehab work yesterday. Arozarena in his first day back hit in the cage and threw to 90 feet. A timeline for his return is not clear.