Kevin Kiermaier’s walk-off extra-base hit in the tenth-inning propelled the Rays to series win on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After taking two of three from Toronto Buffalo in the Opening Series this past weekend, the Tampa Bay Rays look to continue their success on Monday, when they start a four-game set against Atlanta. They’ll play two games at Tropicana Field before heading to Cobb County for the final two games of the series.

Tampa Bay wasn’t quite the offensive juggernaut they appeared to be this offseason, yet they were still able to plate four two-out runs against the Jays, and average 4.67 runs per game. Still, the team left a lot of chicken on the bone, going 5-for-28 with runners in scoring position (.179 wRISP) and posting a .225 BABIP — 25 points lower than they averaged all of last season. Put another way, they were unable to get the big, timely hit when they needed it.

The big boppers (well, kind of) — Hunter Renfroe (0-8), Mike Zunino (1-5), Jose Martinez (1-8), Yoshi Tsutsugo (1-9), Kevin Kiermaier (1-12), Yandy Diaz (1-10), Manuel Margot (1-10) — all looked rusty at the plate … although credit where it’s due, with one swing of the bat Yoshi got the Rays back into Friday’s contest with a +400 foot homer, while Kiermaier came up with the game-winning two-RBI extra-base hit in the series finale on Sunday — Tampa Bay’s ninth consecutive extra-inning win dating back to last season.

Another ray of sunshine: Tampa Bay now has a switch-hitting first baseman in Ji-Man Choi. …And his legend continues to grow.

Atlanta* slugged their way to a series win against the Mets, posting a +14 run differential along the way. Yet, all that glitters is not gold.

After dropping the season opener 1-0 to the Mets, Atlanta appeared to be headed for a 2-1 loss in the second game of the set before Marcell Ozuna took Edwin Diaz deep with two outs in the ninth inning, sending the game to extra innings. They went on to score three times in the 10th and hold on for a 5-3 win. Then, in the series finale on Sunday, Atlanta plated 14 runs on 17 hits including 11 extra-base hits.

The reality for both teams is somewhere in the middle. The Rays aren’t offensively strapped, while Atlanta — a good time in their own right — certainly isn’t the 2020 Dodgers.

A lot of really good at-bats. Guys didn’t expand out of the zone. Our bats are going to get going.

Kevin Cash, on the Rays come from behind win

Pitching Probables

Over the next four days, Kevin Cash will hand the ball off to Tyler Glasnow, Yonny Chirinos, (Charlie Morton (0-1, 13.50 ERA), and Ryan Yarbrough (0-0, 0.00 ERA). Brian Snitker will counter with Mike Foltynewicz, Kyle Wright, Mike Soroka (0-0, 2.49 ERA), and Max Fried (0-0, 3.60 ERA).

Tyler Glasnow struck out five but also walked four across three innings of work, throwing 68 pitches (39 strikes, 57% strike rate). It was the right-hander’s second time facing hitters during Summer Camp after testing positive for COVID-19, which held him out for the first two weeks of Spring Training 2.0. Still, Glasnow reached the upper 90s on his fastball, although his offspeed stuff — his curveball and changeup — lacked some command.

The feel for things wasn’t there today, but as far as like stuff and physical, how ready I am, I feel really good. Just couldn’t get my curveball over and I think it was just easier for guys to sit on heaters.

— Tyler Glasnow

Over his career, Glasnow is 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA in one start (6.0 IP) against Atlanta.

Mike Foltynewicz, one of the harder throwers on Atlanta’s roster, was effective during Thursday’s intrasquad game although he could still be on a pitch count over his first couple turns through the rotation as the team plans to roll out their starters with caution to start the season. The right-hander posted a 4.54 ERA and a 2.84 K/BB across 21 starts last season after missing the first several weeks with an elbow injury. He relies primarily on his an 85 mph backspin laden changeup and a 75 mph 12-6 curveball, while also mixing in a 91 mph extreme fly-ball inducing sinker and a whiffy 90 mph four-seam fastball with some slight arm-side run. Foltynewicz is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in one start (5.0 IP) against Tampa Bay.

Yonny Chirinos threw live batting practice against Kevin Kiermaier, Jose Martinez, and Mike Brosseau among others on Thursday. His velocity was normal (92-94 mph on the Rays’ in-house radar, which has been a touch conservative during Summer Camp) and he, according to Solondz, appeared to have good sink on his fastball and a solid slider across four innings of work. He threw 42 of 62 pitches for strikes (68% strike rate). Chirinos is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in one outing (5.0 IP) against Atlanta.

Kyle Wright threw his first live batting practice last Sunday and pitched in an intrasquad game at some point during the week after being slow to arrive at Summer Camp due to COVID-19 testing and travel. Wright is arguably the most talented starting pitcher on Atlanta’s roster, relying primarily on a hard 87 mph Slider with 12-6 movement and a whiffy 92 mph sinker with natural sinking action, while also mixing in a whiffy 94 mph four-seam fastball with natural sinking action and slight arm-side run, an 81 mph curveball, and an 85 mph changeup with arm-side fade. He has never faced the Rays.

Charlie Morton started his last outing strong, pounding the zone and throwing 22 of his first 28 pitches for strikes across three scoreless frames. Yet Toronto Buffalo was able to breakthrough in the fourth inning when things unraveled for the right-hander.

Cavan Biggio led things off with a first-pitch drag bunt single wide of first, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. followed with a base hit to the right of second on the very next pitch, putting a runner in scoring position with none out. Travis Shaw worked the count full before he walked on a borderline full-count curveball that appeared to be on the black to everyone by Joe West, the home plate umpire. With the bases loaded, Randall Grichuk lined an RBI single to left to put the Jays up by one. Rowdy Tellez and Teoscar Hernandez followed with back-to-back sacrifice flies to center and left, capping the rally.

Toronto Buffalo chased Morton in the top of the fifth inning and consequently the game out of reach. Danny Jansen and Scott Stapp lookalike, Bo Bichette, hit back-to-back base hits to right-field and right-center (respectively) to put two on and none out. Morton appeared to be laboring through his at-bat against Biggio and quickly fell behind 3-1. He attempted to get back into the count, yet the right-hander left a mistake fastball over the plate which Biggio pounced on — lining a homer into the right-field seats and putting the Blue Jays up by five. Morton is 3-2 with a 3.52 ERA in six career starts against his former team.

Mike Soroka tossed six scoreless innings in Friday’s loss to the Mets although he didn’t factor into the decision. The right-hander allowed four hits and no walks while striking out three. Soroka posted a 2.68 ERA and a 6.76 K/BB across 174-2/3 innings in 2019. He relies primarily on a 93 mph four-seam fastball with some natural sinking action, an 82 mph slider, and a 91 mph sinker with slight arm-side run and has some natural sinking action, while also mixing in a whiffy 81 mph changeup with a lot of backspin and slight arm-side fade. Soroka has never faced the Rays.

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.

Noteworthiness

— Austin Meadows, who is recovering from a bout with COVID-19, is slated to play in a simulated game in Port Charlotte. It is not clear how much time he will need before rejoining the big-league roster.

— Diego Castillo spent three days on the paternity list after his wife gave birth over the weekend. It is not clear if he will rejoin the team today.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *