For the second consecutive night, the Tampa Bay Rays put themselves in a first-inning hole, yet this time they not only closed the gap, but they also pulled ahead and never looked back. Down by four, the Rays scored nine unanswered runs on Friday night and won 9-4.
With the win and a Yankees loss, Tampa Bay moved in front of the Yankees by a half-game for first place in the AL East. It was the largest deficit the Rays have overcome this season — with the previous high being two runs — and marked the first time the Rays had overcome a four-run deficit since July 22, 2018.
The nine-run rally started in the sixth inning when Austin Meadows doubled to right off of left-hander Andrew Heaney, snapping an 0-for-14 stretch — spelling the end of Heaney’s night. Luis Garcia entered in relief while and Yandy Diaz welcomed the hurler with an RBI single to center. Pinch-hitter Ji-Man Choi followed with a base hit to center to put two on with none out. Garcia came back to get the next two batters before pinch-hitter Kevin Kiermaier hit an RBI single into right, scoring Diaz.
Ty Buttrey, the third pitcher of the inning entered and hit Guillermo Heredia with a 1-2 pitch, loading the bases. Heredia left the game with a left-hand contusion. X-Rays were negative and he is listed as day-to-day.
Avisail Garcia kept the rally going by lining a single to right-center, scoring two runs and tying the game at four.
Tommy Pham capped the inning with a base hit to right-center, giving the Rays a go-ahead lead.
In the seventh inning, Diaz doubled to center before Choi blasted a two-run homer to right off Cody Allen for a 7-4 lead.
Later in the frame, Kiermaier reached on a fielder’s choice, swiped second, and came home on a Travis d’Arnaud’s double to left-center, pushing the lead to four. After Garcia walked, Pham capped the scoring with a base hit to left.
The Rays hope to get off to a better start this afternoon after trailing in the first inning in each of the first two contests in the set. Per Neil Solondz (Rays Radio), they have allowed five first-inning runs in the last two games against the Angels, equaling the total allowed in the previous 22 games combined.
The New What Next
Charlie Morton (8-0, 2.10 ERA) will get the start for Tampa Bay, pitching opposite of left-hander Jose Suarez (1-1, 4.35 ERA).
Charlie Morton allowed just two hits (with a combined exit velocity of 121.7 mph) and two walks across seven scoreless innings. He struck out seven batters on an efficient 83 pitches (55 strikes, 66% strike rate). After allowing base runners in the first and third innings, Morton retired his final 14 batters…although he did get a little help from his friends. In the fifth inning, Tommy Pham leaped at the wall in left to rob Chapman of an extra-base hit. In two June starts, Morton has tossed 14 scoreless frames with a 7.5 K/BB. His season ERA is down to a sparkling 2.10, while his FIP sits at 2.66 across 81-1/3 frames.
Jose Suarez gave up two runs on four hits and two walks over 4-2/3 innings on Sunday against the Mariners. He struck out six. Suarez missed bats — 14 of 87 pitches were swinging strikes (16% SwStr) — but his command was spotty which contributed to the decision to pull the rookie early from the contest. The 21-year-old has acquitted himself reasonably well through his first two big-league outings, posting a 4.35 ERA/5.19 FIP across 10-1/3 innings with a 1.36 WHIP. He relies primarily on a whiffy 92 mph four-seam fastball with little arm-side movement and an 82 mph swing-and-miss changeup with a little arm-side movement and some natural sink, while also mixing in a whiffy 76 mph curveball with glove-side movement.
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below.
Rays 6/15/19 Starting Lineup
- Garcia DH
- Pham LF
- Meadows RF
- Diaz 3B
- Choi 1B
- Adames SS
- Kiermaier CF
- d’Arnaud C
- Wendle 2B
- Morton RHP
— The Rays have recalled RHP Jake Faria and optioned INF Daniel Robertson to Triple-A Durham.