After a frustrating, thrilling, and exciting 15-inning victory in the series finale with the AL Central leading Twins, the Tampa Bay Rays continue their road-trip in Arlington, where they will face the Texas Rangers.
The Rays continue to hold their own in the AL East and head into Arlington one game over .500. They have won nine of their last 15 games following the marathon victory on Sunday. It was, as Joe Maddon once called it, a moment of growth for the Rays. Tampa Bay has an opportunity to add to its +.500 record against a scuffling Texas team that his lost five of its last six.
The Rangers salvaged a win in the series finale against Toronto Sunday afternoon; one of the few bright spots on an otherwise awful road trip. With just a 3-6 record on the trip, the Rangers head back to Arlington a game below .500 and 10 games back of Houston in the AL West.
While the Rays lead the majors with 555 strikeouts, including 17 on Sunday — putting them on pace to eclipse the Astros’ major league record of 1,535 set in 2013 — they have been able to reduce their strikeout rate by two percentage points over the last 14 days. Besides, it would be erroneous to confuse the strikeouts with a bad offensive team. Tampa Bay is second in Major League Baseball with 74 homers, and are hitting around league average with a .247 overall team batting average — six points better than the Rangers. They also lead the majors with 209 walks.
Over the next three days, Kevin Cash will call upon Erasmo Ramirez (2-0, 2.76 ERA, 3.51 FIP), Matt Andriese (5-1, 3.24 ERA, 4.48 FIP), and Chris Archer (4-3, 3.61 ERA, 2.78 FIP). Jeff Banister will counter with Martin Perez (2-5, 3.77 ERA, 3.73 FIP), Nick Martinez (1-3, 4.69 ERA, 5.20 FIP), and a pitcher to be determined prior to Thursday’s ball game.
Ramirez pitched a perfect 15th inning on Sunday, collecting two strikeouts and recording the save on 12 pitches in the Rays’ win over the Twins.
There is some concern with Ramirez slated to throw on back-to-back days. Cash, however, doesn’t seem as concerned as the Rays’ Twitter-sphere.
He should be fine, Cash said on Sunday. Erasmo, we always talk about how resilient he is.
For his part, Erasmo said he pushed Cash to allow him to make the start.
My arm feels good, Ramirez said. I’m glad the inning was quick. I executed every pitch, and that gave me the chance to not just feel it that much. I told Cash my arm feels good just in case you want to continue with the plans. I want to start for sure.
Perez is 1-0 with a 3.20 ERA over his past three starts, and 2-3 with a 3.47 ERA in six home starts this season. He, however, is 0-2 with a 5.33 ERA in four career starts (and one relief appearance) against Tampa Bay. This season Perez has relied on a kitchen sink repertoire of pitches: a worm burner 94 mph sinker with good arm side run, and a 94 mph four-seam fastball. He’s also mixed in an 85 mph circle changeup that generates a fair number of grounders, an 80 mph curveball, and an 86 mph slider. Key matchups: Tim Beckham (2-4, 2B), Kevin Kiermaier (1-3), Evan Longoria (6-12, 3 2B, HR, 5 RBI), Derek Norris (5-11, 3 2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB), Colby Rasmus (2-8), Steven Souza Jr. (1-3), Jesus Sucre (1-2)
Andriese looks to notch his fifth win in May after he held the Angels to six hits over eight shutout innings in his last start — inarguably his best start of the season. He’ll be making his fourth road start of the season, where he holds a 1-1 record and a 3.00 ERA.
Martinez allowed four runs over five innings against Boston on Thursday. The right-hander will make his fourth start at home, where he has a 3.32 ERA. Martinez has relied primarily on his 93 mph four-seam fastball with average velocity, while also mixing in a 93 mph sinker with little sinking action, an 89 mph worm killer cutter, an 80 mph 12-6 curveball, and a firm 86 mph changeup with slight armside fade. He has no record and a 5.25 ERA in three career outings against the Rays. Key matchups: Tim Beckham (1-3, 3B, RBI), Steven Souza Jr. (1-3, 2B, RBI, BB), Jesus Sucre (1-3, RBI)
Archer allowed two runs on five hits and a walk over 7-2/3 innings on Friday. He struck out 11. The right-hander, who is poised to break the club record for strikeouts in a month, has now recorded double-digit strikeouts in four of his last five starts. His 51 strikeouts in May leave him three behind David Price’s mark, set in June 2014. He has slashed 3.82 ERA/1.06 WHIP/51:10 K:BB in 33 innings over that stretch.
— Evan Longoria’s 15th-inning home run was his first extra-inning homer since Game 162 in 2011 (when he hit an extra inning walk-off home run to put the Rays in the playoffs).
— The six hour and 26 minute contest marked the longest game ever at Target Field.
— Nap time with Logan Morrison:
— DL notes: Brad Boxberger (flexor) will throw live batting to 2B Brad Miller (abdominal strain) and SS Matt Duffy (left heel) with Wilson Ramos (right knee surgery) catching on Monday. Ramos, Miller and Duffy could get at-bats in an extended Spring Training game on Tuesday.