Right-hander Luis Patiño made his debut with the Rays on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

The Tampa Bay Rays began their 10-game homestand with a whimper, not a bang, as they lost their third series of the season — dropping two out-of-three to the Toronto Blue Jays. And while the previous series was a winnable one, don’t expect things to be favorable for the Rays who will welcome the AL West leading Oakland Athletics into the Trop for a four-game series starting Monday. The A’s won their most recent series against Baltimore, although they did see their 13-game win streak come to pass thanks to an 8-1 loss on Sunday, in Baltimore.

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In spite of the series loss, the Rays still have won six of their past nine games after playing some pretty sloppy, un-Rays-like baseball. Even though they’ve recovered somewhat from their early stumbles, Tampa Bay is still scuffling in many areas. They fared well wRISP in the series against the Royals, yet the Rays left A LOT of chicken on the bone against Toronto, going 2-for-19 wRISP.

Joey Wendle has been the Rays’ most consistent hitter, batting .324, while Francisco Mejía is batting .282. Randy Arozarena is batting .278 with three homers, and has hit safely in five of the past six games, and Austin Meadows has earned 14 free passes and boasts a .384 OBP to go with a team-leading four home runs. Still, the Rays are struggling overall to get on base. Mike Zunino has been making solid contact to the tune of a 20.5% barrel rate and a .524 SLG, but he only has a .190 batting average and a .277 OBP to show for it. Willy Adames, Kevin Kiermaier, Mike Brosseau, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Brandon Lowe, and Manuel Margot also have been fairly quiet, leading to uneven production.

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The Athletics have outperformed the Rays in just about every offensive category over the last 14 days. If wRC+ speaks to anything, it’s that Oakland hasn’t been marginally better than Tampa Bay, they’ve been a lot better … like, 36% better. If there’s any consolation, it’s that aside from the runs allowed by Tyler Glasnow on Friday (more on that below), the Rays limited Toronto Dunedin to just four runs over 25 innings. The pitching staff will need to come up big against the Athletics (cue the facepalm since Rich Hill is getting the start on Monday).

Pitching Probables

Over the next four days, Kevin Cash is expected to turn to Rich Hill (1-0, 8.82 ERA), Michael Wacha (1-1, 4.35 ERA), Tyler Glasnow (2-1, 2.05 ERA), and Ryan Yarbrough (1-2, 4.28 ERA). Bob Melvin is expected to counter with Sean Manaea (2-1, 3.04 ERA), Frankie Montas (2-1, 6.75 ERA), Cole Irvin (2-2, 3.86 ERA), and Chris Bassitt (2-2, 4.13 ERA).

Note: The pitching probables could change or be updated since nothing is set in stone, so keep checking back just in case.

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Rich Hill allowed four runs on four hits and a walk over two-plus innings against Kansas City on Tuesday. He struck out one. Hill made it through his first two frames unscathed, although he exited in the third inning after the first five Royals reached base, resulting in four runs crossing the plate. The veteran southpaw has given up exactly four runs in each of his four starts this season, and he’s pitched past the fifth inning just once, with Tuesday’s outing his shortest thus far. His ERA now stands at an inflated and alarming 8.82. Hill is 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA in six career outings (two starts) against the Athletics.

Sean Manaea allowed six hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings while striking out seven in the first game of a doubleheader against the Twins on Tuesday. Only two runners got past second base against the southpaw, who tossed 66 of 95 pitches for strikes (69% strike rate) while pitching a complete game. Manaea now carries a 3.04 ERA and a 4.4 K/BB through 23-2/3 innings. Over his career, he is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts against Tampa Bay. He relies primarily on a 91 mph four-seam fastball and an 84 mph changeup, while also mixing in a 80 mph slider. Key Matchups: Kevin Kiermaier (1-3), Manuel Margot (1-3)

Michael Wacha allowed three runs on five hits and a walk while striking out a batter across 5-2/3 innings against the Royals on Wednesday. All three runs Wacha allowed came via the long ball. Hunter Dozier took him deep to left in the second inning for a two-run homer before Jorge Soler led off the fourth by crushing a fastball left over the plate. Wacha induced just one whiff on 36 swings, and it was his first time managing just one strikeout in a start since 2019. Wacha has never faced the Athletics.

Frankie Montas surrendered six runs on nine hits — including three home runs — over four innings on Wednesday against the Twins. He struck out four. The right-hander tossed 56 of 76 pitches for strikes (74% strike rate) although his command within the zone left a lot to be desired, as he allowed three doubles in addition to two blasts by Nelson Cruz and one by Josh Donaldson. Montas has now performed to a 6.75 ERA and a 4.00 K/BB through 18-2/3 innings on the season. Montas is 0-0 with a 1.00 ERA in two career outings (one start) against the Rays. He relies primarily on a 96 mph sinker, an 89 mph slider, and a 97 mph four-seam fastball, while also mixing in an 88 mph splitter. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (2-4, 2B), Kevin Kiermaier (1-3), Manuel Margot (1-2)

Tyler Glasnow got the start on Friday and allowed five runs on five hits and two walks while striking out 10 across six innings against Toronto Dunedin. The right-hander fanned the first two batters he faced, then allowed the Blue Jays to put up four runs early in a first-inning two-out rally behind a three-run homer by Marcus Semien. While the Rays brought the game within a run in the bottom of the fifth, Glasnow gave up a solo home run in the top of the sixth — the second homer of the night. Glasnow now has a 2.05 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP with 46 punchouts in 30-2/3 innings across his first five starts of the season.

Just couldn’t execute. I got two outs then just wasn’t really landing pitches, falling behind, then got tagged for that three-run homer,. Just the rhythm was all wrong. It just didn’t feel right. … I was just pissed off the whole time, but I know I had to go out and keep my pitch count down. I wanted to go and get six innings, for sure. That was pretty much the only thing on my mind, so I tried to be as efficient as I could. I just ended up feeling a little better as it went on.— Tyler Glasnow

Cole Irvin allowed one run on eight hits and one walk while striking out six across 5-1/3 innings against the Orioles on Friday. Irvin had some trouble limiting traffic on the basepaths, although he was able to minimize run production to earn his second consecutive win. The southpaw gave up four runs in each of his first two starts of the season, yet he’s given up just one run while striking out six in 11-1/3 innings across his last two starts. Irvin has never faced the Rays. Irvin relies primarily on a 91 mph four-seam fastball and an 84 mph changeup, while also mixing in a 91 mph sinker and an 83 mph slider. 

Ryan Yarbrough took the mound in the second inning of Saturday’s contest and served as the bulk-guy, pitching 5-2/3 scoreless innings, scattering three hits (one on the infield) and a walk while striking out six. Yarbrough put together the best performance of the season by doing what he is wont to do: keep Toronto’s batters off balance while also inducing weak contact. He’s pitched much better in 10-2/3 bulk-innings this season, allowing just one run (a 0.88 ERA) compared to 16-2/3 innings as a traditional starter in which he’s performed to a 6.48 ERA.

Chris Bassitt allowed two earned runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out eight across six innings, earning on Saturday against the Orioles. Bassitt allowed two runs in his third consecutive start, although his last two turns were nearly identical; he allowed two runs in six innings while striking out eight. Bassitt, however, struggled more in his first three starts, surrendering nine earned runs across 16-1/3 innings with 11 strikeouts to eight walks. Bassitt is 0-1 with a 1.86 ERA in two career outings (one start) against the Rays. He relies primarily on a 93 mph sinker and an 89 mph cutter, while also mixing in a 94 mph four-seam fastball, an 86 mph changeup, and a 71 mph curveball. Key Matchups: Kevin Kiermaier (1-4), Manuel Margot (1-2)

Noteworthiness

— Gen Z Takes the Mound… Per MLB.com, aside from a fantastic team debut on Sunday, Luis Patiño quietly made history in another way. “Tampa Bay’s baseball team officially entered the world on March 31, 1998, when the Devil Rays played their first game at Tropicana Field. Twenty-three years and just shy of a month later, the Rays sent 21-year-old right-hander Luis Patiño to the mound at The Trop to start Sunday’s series finale against the Blue Jays. And that marked an unusual bit of history because Patiño was born on Oct. 26, 1999, making him the first Rays player to be born after the Devil Rays’ first game. Every other player in franchise history had been older than the franchise, until Patiño. Shane McClanahan previously claimed the most recent birthday for any Rays player — April 28, 1997, about 11 months before Tampa Bay’s first game — when he debuted during the postseason.”

— Speaking of Luis Patiño, it would appear that the Rays will carry him on the active roster at least for the time being.

— From Neil’s lips (fingertips) to your ears (eyes), “Tampa Bay (11–11) is now 9-7 during a stretch of 30 games in 31 days, including 17 in a row (1–2 so far). Yesterday was the team’s first shutout defeat this year, and first in 69 games, the third-longest stretch in franchise history.”

— On Hill’s woes … the left-hander believed he was tipping pitches with runners in scoring position in his last start — a problem he believes is now corrected. He also feels he’s made some adjustments with his cutter or slider that will help moving forward.

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