The Tampa Bay Rays finished off the San Francisco Giants in time to catch a flight to the south side of Chicago, where they will face the White Sox in a three-game series, starting Monday. For the first time in their history, the Rays have won their first three series of the season. The White Sox dropped two-of-three in a weather-shortened series against the Seattle Mariners.
In spite of a miniature pitching meltdown in the middle game of the series against the Giants, the Rays took the set thanks to solid pitching and opportunistic hitting. Rays hurlers held San Francisco to a .156 batting average overall and gave up just three two-out runs. Meanwhile, the bats which averaged just 2.75 runs per game (RPG) over the first four ballgames averaged 4 RPG against San Francisco, which is not an easy feat seeing that the Giants overall ERA to start the season was sub 2.50. It didn’t hurt that Tampa Bay lowered its strikeout rate while increasing its wOBA, wRISP batting average, and BABIP incrementally from series-to-series.
Meanwhile, after coming up with a big win against Seattle on Friday, the White Sox were drubbed by the Mariners on Saturday and Sunday The south-siders were outscored 21-7 in those two games. The pitching staff hasn’t been very good, performing to an overall 5.40 ERA/4.16 FIP — 4.70 ERA/3.73 FIP by the starters, 7.48 ERA/4.93 FIP by the relievers. Even though Chicago’s offense is better than Tampa Bays, you cannot expect to win games when you give up a bunch of runs.
Over the next three days, Kevin Cash will throw Blake Snell (1-1, 3.46 ERA), Charlie Morton (1-0, 1.64 ERA), and Tyler Glasnow (2-0, 0.82 ERA). Rick Renteria is expected to respond with Carlos Rodon (1-1, 1.59 ERA), Ervin Santana (2018, 0-1, 8.03 ERA), and Reynaldo Lopez (0-1, 10.00 ERA)
Blake Snell retired his first 12 batters (eight on strikeouts) before Trevor Story led off the fifth inning with a base hit. He, however, was promptly picked off by Snell. Chris Iannetta (sixth inning walk) and Story (infield hit in the seventh) went down as the only other batters to reach
Utilizing a similar plan to the last time he faced Colorado, Snell tied a career-high 13 strikeouts across seven innings — seven coming on his curveball. The left-hander induced 25 swings and misses (37% of the 67 strikes thrown), more than he had in any start last season.
Snell’s pitching breakout:
- Fastball: 36 thrown, 29 strikes, 7 whiffs
- Curveball: 29 thrown, 16 strikes, 7 whiffs
- Changeup: 23 thrown, 13 strikes, 7 whiffs
- Slider: 16 thrown, 9 strikes, 4 whiffs
Carlos Rodon was sharp in his second start of the season, striking out nine hitters across six innings of work. He has also found his control thus far, walking just two batters in 11-1/3 innings. Rodon relies primarily on his 92 mph four-seam fastball and a whiffy 84 mph slider with short glove-side cut and has some two-plane movement, while also mixing in a firm 85 mph changeup. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-2, RBI), Yandy Diaz (1-3, 2 RBI)
Charlie Morton is looking for his third consecutive quality start as a member of the Rays. In two starts this season, the right-hander has struck out 14 batters across 11 innings and has a 1.64 ERA. In two career outings against the White Sox (totaling 12-2/3 innings of work), Morton has been good, going 2-0 with a respectable 3.55 ERA.
The White Sox didn’t list a probable starting pitcher for Tuesday’s home game against the Rays, although it’s likely that Ervin Santana would be the one to fill that slot.
Santana, who the White Sox signed to a minor league deal, only made two Cactus League appearances in his extended Spring, and in doing so he gave up six runs on 12 hits across nine innings. Given his late start, he’s remained in Arizona to keep working to get ready for when the White Sox would need a fifth starter. Santana relies primarily on his 83 mph slider, a whiffy 91 mph four-seam fastball with natural sink, and an 85 mph changeup with slight cut action and a lot of backspin, while also mixing in a 91 mph sinker. Santana is 7-7 with a 5.31 ERA across his career against the Rays. Key Matchups: Avisail Garcia (7-27, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB), Mike Zunino (3-6, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB)
Tyler Glasnow went to work in the bottom of the first, against San Francisco, with a plate appearance by the former face of the franchise, Evan Longoria, looming. The right-hander quickly disposed of the first two batters on five pitches, bringing Longoria to the plate.
Glasnow promptly got ahead in the count before he spotted up a well-placed curveball on the inner third of the plate, locking up Longoria.
The first at-bat against the former face of the franchise culminated in a punch out, as the 1-2-3 first set the tone for the afternoon against the tall right-hander.
All told, Glasnow scattered three singles and allowed a walk, while striking out six. He threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of 23 batters (74% first-pitch strike rate), and 59 of 82 pitches overall for strikes (72% strike rate).
Reynaldo Lopez is looking to shake off his latest start against Seattle where he allowed six earned runs and walked four across five innings of work. Lopez has yet to reach the sixth inning in 2019 after going just four innings in his first start on March 30. Lopez relies primarily on his 94 mph four-seam fastball, while also mixing in an 81 mph slider with some two-plane movement and an 84 mph changeup with a lot of backspin. Lopex is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in one career start against the Rays. Key Matchups: Yandy Diaz (1-2, BB), Kevin Kiermaier (2-3)
— After starting the season on a 1-for-27 skid, Willy Adames went 3-for-7 in the last two games of the series against the Giants. Mike Zunino, however, has collected just two total hits with the Rays.
— Tommy Pham continued his on-base streak with Tampa Bay, reaching base five times. Pham has now reached base safely in 42 consecutive games (extending back to 2018).