The Tampa Bay Rays continue their current 10-game home stand with a four-game series against AL East rivals, the Boston Red Sox, starting Monday.
Led by one of the hottest pitching staffs in baseball since the All-Star Break, Tampa Bay took two of three from the AL West leading Texas Rangers over the weekend. Chris Archer (Tuesdays starter) is coming off of one of his best starts of the season, while Jake Odorizzi (Thursday’s starter) is 5-0 since the All-Star Break.
Drew Smyly got the start in the series finale, and though he left two mistake pitches up in the zone, bot of which were hammered by Texas’ hitters, he is now 4-0 in his last six starts.
We’re very capable of winning, said Smyly, who will not make an appearance in the upcoming series. Texas is a first-place team, they’ve been in first place all year. It’s just consistency.
In that series, the Rays showed something they hadn’t all season: the ability to string together wins after posting a losing effort.
It just seemed like for a while we would win two or three and then turn around and lose five or six in a row and we struggled with those comeback games, Rays skipper Kevin Cash said. But if you look at the Texas series and the way we started it and turned things around quickly to finish strong. That’s what I want to see from this team.
Boston split their weekend four-game set with the Tigers, including a disappointing 10-5 loss in the series finale (editor’s note: you won’t hear me crying). Overall, the Rays are 4-5 against the Massholes this season, with a -1 run differential. That is, in spite of some sloppy play earlier in the season on the part of the good guys, both teams have played one another fairly close.
Over the next four days Kevin Cash will lean on Blake Snell (4-5, 3.06 ERA), Archer (7-17, 4.05 ERA), Matt Andriese (6-5, 3.66 ERA), and Odorizzi (8-5, 3.63 ERA). John Farrell will counter with David Price (11-8, 4.19 ERA), Clay Buchholz (4-9, 5.42 ERA), Rick Porcello (17-3, 3.22 ERA), and Drew Pomeranz (10-9, 2.95 ERA).
Rays Series Starters
Snell allowed one run on five hits and four walks over five innings in Tuesday’s 15-1 win over the Padres. He struck out eight. Although he was inefficient yet again — needing 95 pitches to make it through five frames, while walking four for the second consecutive start — the southpaw was given help by his team’s offensive explosion. His fantastic 13.50 K/9 over the last 14 days is offset by a 10.8 BB/9 over the same stretch, significantly damaging Snell’s ability to make hitters swing swing through pitches.
Archer hurled 7-1/3 shutout innings against the Padres on Wednesday, allowing just four hits, while striking out nine and walking one. The righty threw 70 of his 107 pitches for strikes, and induced a whopping 20 swings and misses. Archer now has now fanned 18 and walked just one over his last 13-1/3 frames, while also notching nine strikeouts on August 12 (although he allowed five runs).
Andriese surrendered five earned runs on seven hits and two walks over 5-1/3 innings in a 6-2 loss on Friday. He struck out four. In all fairness, he wasn’t as bad as the final line might indicate, although he did give up some untimely hits. 66 of Andriese’s 95 pitches went for strikes, including 12 whiffs, however, the two homers surrendered were enough to sink his battleship. The righty has endured consecutive rough starts, while allowing 11 earned runs on 15 hits (including six homers) over 10-1/3 innings work.
Odorizzi allowed just one earned run on six hits and a walk over six innings in an 8-2 victory over the Rangers. He struck out four. Of his total 101 pitches, 65 went for strikes, with his only mistake being a solo shot to Roughned Odor. Odorizzi has been very good over his last seven starts, posting six quality starts over that stretch.
Red Sox Series Starters
Price gave up one run on four hits over six innings on Wednesday night. He struck out four. The former Ray finally put together a solid start in which he allowed just two base hits after a second-inning homer. And while he didn’t blow the opposition away, Baltimore managed mostly weak contact and never generated much of a threat — they had only one at-bat with a man in scoring position. Price posted eight scoreless innings against Tampa Bay in July, however, the Rays have tagged their former ace with a 6.00 ERA in three starts this season. Key matchups: Corey Dickerson (1-3), Logan Forsythe (5-17, 2B, RBI, BB), Kevin Kiermaier (2-5, 2B, HR, RBI, BB), Steven Souza Jr. (2-8, 2B, RBI), Bobby Wilson (2-2, 2B, 2 RBI)
Buchholz was slotted back into the rotation in place of Steven Wright on Tuesday. His spot in the rotation depended on Wright’s status, so Tuesday’s start could be the last for him if he doesn’t do well, and/or pending the return of Eduardo Rodriguez. Buchholz’s overall numbers this season aren’t impressive (5.42 ERA, 1.38 WHIP), though he maintains an 8-7 record with a 2.63 ERA against Tampa Bay over his career. Key matchups: Logan Forsythe (3-7, 2B, RBI, BB), Logan Morrison (5-12, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI)
Porcello notched up his 17th win of the season on Friday, allowing just two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks in a win over Detroit. He struck out eight. The righty hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any game since the middle of June, and has won 11 of his last 12. Porcello posted six innings of one run ball against Tampa Bay in his last start on July 9th. Key matchups: Corey Dickerson (3-10, 2 2B, HR, RBI), Matt Duffy (1-3), Logan Forsythe (6-20, 3B, 2 BB), Kevin Kiermaier (5-20, 2B, RBI, BB), Evan Longoria (9-36, 3 2B, 3 RBI, 2 BB), Luke Maile (1-1, 2B), Brad Miller (3-11, 3 HR, 3 RBI, BB), Logan Morrison (6-16, 2B, RBI), Steven Souza Jr. (6-18)
Pomeranz allowed one run on four hits over five innings Saturday against Detroit. He struck out three. The one run he allowed came on a James McCann solo shot, though a long rain delay knocked Pomeranz out of the game in the bottom of the fifth. He had thrown only 51 pitches over the first five innings, and now is 10-9 overall this season. He also has an impressive 2.95 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 140-1/3 innings this season. Pomeranz relies upon an 80 mph, worm-killer knuckle curveball and a whiffy 92 mph four-seam fastball. He’ll also mix in an 87 mph cutter and a hard 87 mph changeup. Key matchups: Logan Forsythe (2-8, BB), Brad Miller (2-5, HR, RBI)
— Tampa Bay continues its ascension back to .500 as one of the unluckiest teams in baseball; 63-59 BaseRuns record, 59-63 Pythagorean Expectation, 52-70 actual record.
— Logan Forsythe, who sat out four games with a back injury, returned on Sunday and homered for the third time in as many starts.
— Sandy Leon recorded multiple hits in six of his last nine starts and is batting .386.