The Rays will brush off their shoulders after a disappointing series loss to the AL East leading Boston Red Sox. Let’s be clear about something before we move forward: Boston’s series win wasn’t predicated on some dominant force that shellacked Tampa Bay — after all, the Rays outscored the Sox 17-15. On the contrary, the Rays were their own worst enemy, going 6-for-31 wRISP in the three game series. In short, the Sox won because the BABIP luck dragons were nipping at the Rays heels. If you’re so inclined, you can read a blow-by-blow account of Wednesday night’s game at our Tumblr page. Moving forward, enter the Royals.
The Royals have cooled off since the last time the two teams faced off against one another, but don’t let that fact fool you — they’ve been hot of late. Kansas City has won nine of its last 15 games, taking three consecutive series from the Twins, Astros, and Tigers. However, they’ve only scored more than four runs in a game twice in that stretch, also averaging under three runs per game. Juxtapose that with the Rays who’ve averaged five runs per game in the same span, having also won nine of their last 15. Juego G won’t be making a homecoming appearance in this series, but Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson will.
Ervin Santana: Per Rotowire, “Santana cruised to his fourth win of the season on Saturday against the Astros, allowing two runs on five hits with six strikeouts over seven innings.” The Rays have had their way with Santana over the last three seasons, with the Royals 30-year old RHP posting a 1-2 record with a 6.61 ERA against Tampa Bay. Furthermore, the Rays have the opportunity to pounce on Santana who — prior to last Saturday — hasn’t won a game in five previous starts. That’s with a caveat of course — his W/L record isn’t reflective of his performance on the mound, rather it’s indicative of a lack of run support. Nevertheless, the Rays have posted a combined .286 BA/.343 OBP/.532 SLG/.875 OPS against Santana, with a handful of players doing exceedingly well in 126 total at-bats. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (7-17, 2B, 4 RBI, BB), Desmond Jennings (1-3, HR, RBI), Matt Joyce (4-14, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB), James Loney (5-14, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB), Evan Longoria (5-12, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB), Luke Scott (8-21, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB).
Luis Mendoza: Per Rotowire, “Mendoza tossed seven scoreless innings on four hits and one walk to go with three strikeouts Sunday, as Kansas City eked past Houston after his departure.” The Rays royally (pun intended) beat up on Mendoza back at the beginning of May, tagging him for six runs on seven hits, including three home runs. They, however, lost that game 9-8. Whatever the case, Tampa Bay has put up good numbers against Mendoza, posting a combined .341 BA/.392 OBP/.683 SLG/1.075 slash line, with seven extra base hits and 10 RBI in 41 total at-bats. Key match-ups: Kelly Johnson (3-5, 2B, 2 RBI, BB), Matt Joyce (3-5, 2B, HR, RBI, BB), James Loney (1-2, RBI), Evan Longoria (1-4, 3B), Sean Rodriguez (1-1, 2B), Luke Scott (3-4, HR, RBI), Ben Zobrist (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB).
Jeremy Guthrie: Per Rotowire, “Guthrie won his seventh contest of the season Monday, holding the Tigers to two runs over 6.1 innings.” Historically, Guthrie also hasn’t had much success against Tampa Bay, going 4-5 with a 3.58 ERA since 2010. Though the current Rays have put up mediocre numbers against Guthrie, those that would be considered the more productive players have fared well. Key match-ups: Desmond Jennings (1-4), Matt Joyce (10-27, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB), Evan Longoria (11-36, 5 2B, HR, 9 RBI, 3 BB), Sean Rodriguez (2-7, HR, 2 RBI), Ben Zobrist (10-31, 3 2B, 3B, 4 RBI, 3 BB).
Wade Davis: Per Rotowire, “Davis gave up six runs on 10 hits with no walks and eight strikeouts against the Rangers on Friday.” Welcome home, WD40. I think we’re all familiar with what Davis has to offer. The skinny behind Davis this season: when he’s pitched well, the Royals have won. And when he hasn’t, they haven’t. That, of course, is an over generalization. But for the most part, it’s been the rule not the exception. As you’d imagine, only five Rays have any experience against Davis, while only two have been productive. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (8-21, 2 2B, RBI, 4 BB), Kelly Johnson (2-8, 3B, 3 BB).
- Kansas City (30-33) has lost seven of eight at Tropicana Field while getting limited to a .199 average and 14 runs.
- Kansas City has a fair amount of swagger heading into the opener of a seven-game trip after taking two of three from Detroit.
- Kansas City starters own a 1.90 ERA over the last eight games while the pen has given up one run over its last 25-2/3 innings. A caveat for the Royals, Santana’s 6.84 ERA at Tropicana Field is his third-worst mark at any AL ballpark, and he’s 2-5 in nine starts there.
- Helly hasn’t lost since April 25, but that’s mostly because of a 6.86 run support average that ranks among baseball’s best. He’s 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts against the Royals, yielding four runs over five innings in a 9-3 loss May 1.
- Speaking of the Royals, the Rays acquired a prospect named Wil Myers before the start of the season. Maybe you’ve heard of him? Anyway, we’ve put together/posted a pair of articles about the potential of he getting the call up in the near future. You can check them out here and here.