After defeating the Mariners for the second consecutive day, 5-4, the Tampa Bay Rays will look to sweep the series Sunday afternoon. The Rays have not won three games in Seattle since 2015. They also have not swept the Mariners at home since 2010, or at all since 2012.
With the win and the Athletics loss, the Rays enter play 1-1/2 games ahead of Oakland for the final American League Wildcard spot, and 2-1/2 games out of the top Wildcard spot behind Cleveland, who also lost yesterday. Tampa Bay is now 5-2 in a stretch of 21 consecutive games against sub .500 teams. Per FanGraphs, the Rays now have a 74.8% chance of reaching the playoffs, up 7.1% from Saturday. Baseball Prospectus gives them an 81.4% chance of a postseason berth, up 5.9% from Saturday.
Mike Zunino had a happy homecoming in his first game against his former team, while the bullpen, behind Colin Poche, Nick Anderson, and Emilio Pagan were terrific.
Zunino hit a three-run homer for Tampa Bay’s first lead of the night. After Jesus Aguilar and Mike Brosseau reached base on back-to-back singles, the catcher crushed a 2-1 changeup to left-center, giving the Rays a two-run advantage.
It was Zunino’s eighth homer of the season, and third in his last five starts. Two batters later, Kevin Kiermaier hit a solo homer to center, pushing the lead to 4-1.
The Mariners immediately answered for two runs in the bottom of the frame, however, the Rays got one of those runs back when Avisail Garcia came up with the third homer in a six-batter span on the first pitch of the frame.
All told, the Rays hit three homers which accounted for all five runs.
Meanwhile, Colin Poche, who got four crucial outs the day prior, took over for Charlie Morton in the seventh inning. Even though Poche walked Mallex Smith on a 3-2 pitch to start the inning, the southpaw got J.P. Crawford to hit into a 6-3 double play, and Omar Narváez to fly out to center, ending that threat.
Nick Anderson followed Poche in the eighth inning and struck out Daniel Vogelbach swinging to start the frame. He proceeded to collect punch outs of Kyle Seager and Austin Nola, both looking. The right-hander has retired 15 of 16 batters faced, with 11 strikeouts.
Emilio Pagan took over in the bottom ninth and struck out the last two batters after he coaxed a first-pitch ground out from Dee Gordon, earning his second save in as many days and the 11th of the season (in 17 tries).
The New What Next
The Rays will go for a series sweep on Sunday afternoon with Ryan Yarbrough (10-3, 3.90 ERA) on the mound. He’ll pitch opposite of Wade LeBlanc (6-5, 5.38 ERA) following an opener.
Ryan Yarbrough allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits and one walk over 4-2/3 innings against the Blue Jays on Sunday. He struck out five and did not factor in the decision. Two unearned runs crossed the plate during the fourth inning — a throwing error allowed both runs to score with two outs. The 27-year-old worked into the seventh inning as the bulk reliever, but he was pulled with two outs after giving up a double and a walk — both of which were stranded. Yarbrough has a 3.90 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and a 5.38 K/BB across 90 innings.
Wade LeBlanc allowed five runs on five hits and one walk across five innings while striking out five in his last appearance. LeBlanc entered the game in the second inning and retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced before he unraveled in the fifth inning when he allowed a walk and four hits — including a two-run homer off the bat of Fernando Tatis Jr. — to account for all five runs scored against him. Because of the loss, LeBlanc’s record fell to 6-5 on the season to go along with a poor 5.38 ERA, and a 1.40 WHIP across 92 frames. He relies primarily on an 84 mph cutter, a 79 mph changeup that features some natural sinking action, and an 86 mph sinker, while also mixing in a 73 mph curveball with sweeping glove-side movement. Over his career, LeBlanc is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA across one start (5-1/3 innings) against Tampa Bay. Key Matchups: Travis d’Arnaud (1-1), Avisail Garcia (1-2, BB), Tommy Pham (2-4, HR, RBI), Erik Sogard (2-3)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 8/11/19 Starting Lineup
- d’Arnaud 1B
- Pham LF
- Sogard 2B
- Garcia RF
- Aguilar DH
- Brosseau 3B
- Heredia CF
- Zunino C
- Adames SS
— Jose Alvarado is expected to make his fourth and potentially final rehab appearance with the Durham Bulls today. He will be re-evaluated afterward.
— Trevor Richards is getting stretched out, making his second appearance on Saturday. Richards worked up to 49 pitches across 2-1/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out four.