After a 4-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, the Tampa Bay Rays look to get back on the winning side of the ledger tonight. Tampa Bay has lost more than two consecutive games just once this season, from July 29-August 2 when the dropped five straight. Their current losing streak is three.
After peaking at 15 games over .500 twice this season, Tampa Bay enters play 12 games over for the first time since August 27.
Tampa Bay has scored three runs or fewer in five of their last eight games (all in September).
As Neil Solondz (Rays Radio) writes, “Tampa Bay also has had a bit of a tough stretch in regards to starting pitching. In the past turn through the rotation (five games), Rays starters have given up 17 runs in just 22.1 IP (6.85 ERA) and have allowed 26 hits and 10 walks over that stretch. None of the starters have gone more than 5.1 innings during that period.”
Yet even considering the malaise, the Rays start the day with a 3-1/2 game lead over the Blue Jays in the division, and they still have a 100% chance of a postseason berth (and a 94.8% chance of winning the AL East according to FanGraphs) with 16 games left to play.
Meanwhile, Boston has won four of their last six games and has hit 16 homers in the last five contests.
The New What Next
Blake Snell (3-1, 3.74 ERA) will get the start tonight pitching opposite of Andrew Triggs (0-2, 9.95 ERA).
Blake Snell got the start against the Marlins on Saturday and looked to continue his success against the Marlins. And in the early goings, it looked like that would be the case as the southpaw fanned six, and allowed just one hit and a walk over the first three innings. However, things changed in the fourth when Jesus Aguilar walked for the second time in the game, and Brian Anderson — who had been 0-for-14 against Tampa Bay this season — doubled to right-center. Lewis Brinson struck out on a fastball, but the ball went off Michael Perez’s glove for a passed ball, allowing Aguilar to score and Anderson to move into third.
The Marlins extended their lead in the fifth when Aguilar hit a one-out flare to right, then went to second on Anderson’s grounder to first. Snell was able to force the next batter, Brinson, to ground into the shift, yet Brandon Lowe sailed his throw to first, which went into the Rays dugout, scoring Aguilar. The infield hit and the throwing error, which came with Anderson at third, plated a run. Miami wasn’t done. Two pitches later, former Ray Corey Dickerson homered to left-center, capping the rally. Dickerson is now 3-for-16 this season against his former team, and all three hits have been long balls.
Snell finished the frame, which ultimately ended his night. All told, he allowed six hits and two walks while striking out eight. He was charged with five runs (four earned) in his first loss of the season.
As dominant as Snell has been to start games, he has struggled in the middle innings, with Snell entering Saturday’s contest with an ugly 11.25 ERA in the fourth inning — a trend that continued Saturday.
I need to be better, that’s just the bottom line. I’m happy with how I feel, I’m happy with how my pitches are working, I’m happy with how I’m learning, I’m happy with how I’m watching video and seeing what I should do and then doing it for the most part. There’s a lot of good takeaways, but I have to put this team in a spot to win and I gotta give them more innings, because I know I can do that, and I know that’s very attainable.
I just have to be more ready to throw that first pitch with intent. It’s me. It’s not physical. I can throw strikes any time I want. It’s 100 percent me, and I have to do a better job of that. I’m going to. I feel really good, man. I really do feel good. It’s going to start going my way, I know it is, just with all the work I’ve been putting in.
I just have to be in the zone and compete in the zone, because my stuff plays, and I know it does. I just have to do it. That’s what I’m looking forward to in my next start on Friday. I’m going to learn a lot, I’m going to get better, and on Friday we’ll see what I learned and what I didn’t learn. I’m looking forward to that.— Blake Snell
In 11 starts against the Red Sox, Snell is 6-3 with a 2.83 ERA. He blanked Boston across five innings on August 12 while striking out six.
Andrew Triggs allowed one run on three hits and two walks while striking out four across three innings on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Triggs gave up a solo home run to Caleb Joseph in the third inning but held the Blue Jays in check otherwise. It was his second appearance with Boston, and he worked three innings on both occasions. While his numbers aren’t exactly eye-popping, he has racked up seven strikeouts and just two walks across six innings. Triggs is a three-pitch pitcher that relies primarily on an 89 mph sinker, an 84 mph 12-6 slider, and a 76 mph curveball with glove-side movement.
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below.
Rays 9/11/20 Starting Lineup
- Meadows LF
- Wendle SS
- B. Lowe 2B
- Choi 1B
- Kiermaier CF
- Tsutsugo 3B
- N. Lowe DH
- Phillips RF
- Perez C
— Tampa Bay will be going with an all left-handed-hitting lineup tonight — an MLB first.
— Tampa Bay struck out 17 times yesterday, tying the most in a nine-inning game at Tropicana Field.