However, one thing was missing from ESPN’s game recap on Baseball Tonight: the Benny Hill Show theme music.
Breathe a collective sigh of relief while you can, after all it isn’t going to get any easier for Tampa Bay.
Tuesday harkens the beginning of a tough stretch of seven games against a pair of division leaders, heading into the All Star Break. First stop Kansas City, where the Rays will take on the reigning American League champions.
The Rays roster has been bolstered by the activation of John Jaso (bruised left wrist) from the DL. Jake Odorizzi (left oblique strain) is also expected to be activated this Sunday. However, the team lost another player to the injury bug ― Steven Souza. The question begs, how will this series of moves effect the roster?
Alex Colome’s last start (at least for the time being) was set for Monday, however, the weather in Kansas City had other ideas. Because of the rainout on Monday, the Rays opted to recall RHP Matt Andriese, who will make a spot start in game one of the day/night double header on Tuesday. Odorizzi, who made his last rehab start with the Charlotte Stone Crabs on Monday, is scheduled to return Saturday, leaving either Colome or Erasmo Ramirez to be moved to the bullpen to open a spot in the starting rotation. The team is weighing several factors ahead of the decision, including who could be more use as a reliever. However, at 7-2 with a 2.17 ERA in his past 10 starts, I cannot see how the tandem of Matt Silverman and Kevin Cash could pull Ramirez from the starting rotation. The decision to activate Andrew Bellatti could also factor into things. As it stands, that decision will be based on the needs of the bullpen.
Jaso was removed from his final rehabilitation game at Durham after just two at-bats and three innings in the outfield, and was activated from the 60-day disabled list. He will make his first major league appearance since bruising his left wrist on opening day.
Steven Souza’s status complicated things to an extent. The right-fielder suffered an injury in Sunday’s game after getting hit by a pitch the eighth inning. Souza left the game early with a substantial gash in his right pinky that required stitches.
I can’t really bend it too well right now, Souza said after the game. I’m hoping I wake up (today) and it feels a little better. I don’t have much feeling in my pinky right now, which is kind of a worry for us.
It was a really deep cut. The cut was deeper than the doctor thought it was when he opened it up. … We don’t know what’s in there.
Per Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times), “Souza was relieved that further examination of his right pinky by a hand specialist confirmed there was no break and that the tendon appeared intact despite the deep gash.” However, he still has no feeling in pinky and there is some nerve damage although he doesn’t know the extent. Souza was placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 6. He is eligible to return on July 21. They also designated Preston Guilmet for assignment in order to clear more roster space.
Since Souza was placed on the DL, the Rays don’t need to make a roster move, at the moment, in order to activate Jaso. There was some question whether they’d option Joey Butler back to Triple-A Durham, or part ways with Grady Sizemore. For what it’s worth, Butler is 3-for-his-last-30 with 17 strikeouts, while Sizemore is hitting .360 with three runs and four RBI in his time with Tampa Bay.
As for the upcoming series, both the Rays and Royals are coming off important victories, and both look to build winning streaks. Kansas City earned only its second win in seven contests by edging Minnesota 3-2 on Sunday afternoon. Like the Rays, the Royals have an excellent pitching staff that has yielded fewer runs per game than Tampa Bay. Both teams have held opponents scoreless seven times ― tied for third most in the league. Also like Tampa Bay, Kansas City is strapped for offensive production.
The Rays will throw Matt Moore, Matt Andriese Chris Archer, and Nathan Karns over the next three days (and four games). Andriese (3-2, 3.24 ERA) was recalled from Triple-A Durham and will be the 26th man on the roster. Before being optioned back to Durham on June 26th, the 25 year-old right put together an excellent six inning outing against Boston, in which he allowed no runs and just one hit while fanning five. Moore (0-0, 7.10 ERA) struggled in his season debut Thursday against Cleveland, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks in just 4-2/3 innings. He struck out four in the no-decision. Archer (9-5, 2.18 ERA) was outstanding Friday night, tossing 6-2/3 shutout innings while scattering just three hits and three walks to go with eight strikeouts. Finally, Karns (4-4, 3.21 ERA) pitched well in a no-decision Saturday, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks over seven innings while fanning a season high 10 batters.
Edinson Voloquez: Volquez (8-4, 3.48) escaped without a decision after permitting five runs over five innings in Houston last Wednesday after winning his previous four starts. The 32 year-old righty surrendered two homers in his last outing after giving up five in his first 15 of the 2015 campaign. He is 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA in three career starts against the Rays. Key matchups: Asdrubal Cabrera (3-8, HR, 3 RBI, BB), Brandon Guyer (1-3), Kevin Kiermaier (1-3), Evan Longoria (3-9, 2B, 3 RBI), Grady Sizemore (2-4, HR, RBI, BB).
Chris Young: Per Rotowire, Young (7-4, 2.64 ERA) pitched 5-1/3 innings, giving up a run on six hits and a walk while striking out two in Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Twins. The soft tossing Young has the ability to induce weak contact — specifically weak fly balls — thanks in part to the deception created by his long limbs. Young’s delivery appears to start close to the plate, and makes the ball appear invisible to batters. Key matchups: John Jaso (2-8, RBI, BB), Kevin Kiermaier (1-2, 2B, BB), James Loney (8-22, 3 2B, RBI, 3 BB), Evan Longoria (2-3, 2B), Rene Rivera (1-2).
Jeremy Guthrie: Per Rotowire, Guthrie (6-5, 5.42 ERA) held the Twins to two runs on five hits over 7-1/3 innings in a no-decision Friday night. The Rays have done okay against the 36 year-old righty, slashing a combined .255 BA/.319 OBP/.448 SLG/.767 OPS line over 145 at-bats. On the contrary, Guthrie’s 2-1 record and 2.84 ERA over is last three starts against Tampa Bay tells a different story. Key matchups: Asdrubal Cabrera (9-30, HR, RBI, BB), Brandon Guyer (1-3), John Jaso (6-24, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB), Evan Longoria (13-44, 5 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 3 BB).
Yodano Ventura: Per Rotowire, Ventura (3-6, 4.68 ERA) will be activated from the DL to start Thursday’s game, Matt DeFranks of Sports Radio 810 reports. Make no doubt about it, Ventura’s stuff is electric. However, his fastball velocity is down from the last two seasons (from 97.1 mph to 94.3). He’s also throwing fewer four-seamers and more sinkers. Moreover, Ventura has pitched from behind more often than a year ago, and his command has left much to be desired. Nevertheless, he remains a formidable opponent for the Rays, who’ve faced him but twice. Key matchups: David DeJesus (1-3), Brandon Guyer (1-3), John Jaso (1-2), Kevin Kiermaier (2-2, HR, 4 RBI), Evan Longoria (1-4, BB).
― Evan Longoria is 6-17 during a four-game hitting streak and leads the majors in fielding percentage (.978) at his position.
― It’s official, both Chris Archer and Brad Boxberger will represent the Rays in the 2015 All-Star Game. Congrats Archer and Box!
Archer, who ranks first in the American League in strikeouts and opponents average, said,
There’s no words to describe how special this is. It’s one of the first times in my life where I’ve gotten the proper recognition, in my opinion, outside of my teammates. Obviously my main focus is for my teammates to know I’m capable of. But when the league knows, it takes it to a whole ‘nother level. And I’m very appreciative of all the different media outlets that helped me get noticed.
As for the typically stoic reliever “Boxberger showed emotion,” said manager Kevin Cash — a rarity from the righty who is said to have ice water running through his veins.
The addition to the roster was unexpected for Boxberger, who initially wasn’t sure of what to make of the announcement:
Shocked, I didn’t really expect it coming so I’m still trying to let it sink in and see how it goes.
― The final line on Jake Odorizzi in his final rehab start for the Stone Crabs: 5.2 IP/2 H/0 R/1 BB/6 K on 73 pitches (51 strikes).
― Noah Pransky (Shadow of the Stadium blog) wrote about the flawed assumptions made by the Tampa Tribune in their front page Rays’ stadium article.
― In the midst all of the negativity surrounding the Rays during their skid, Dan Shulman (ESPN) put some things into perspective:
― Marc Krauss, who recently had been designated for assignment by the Rays, has been claimed by the Tigers.