After the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Marlins 7-2 on Sunday afternoon, completing a two-game sweep of Miami, they will welcome the Toronto Blue Jays into the Trop for a three-game series. The Blue Jays are coming off a series split against the Orioles.
For the first time in franchise history, the Rays have scored six or more runs in seven consecutive games. Over that stretch, Tampa Bay has gone 6-1 and swept two consecutive series. They are a red-hot 8-2 in the last 10 games and have won three consecutive series.
The Rays offense has been very good of late, slashing a combined .333 BA/.417 OBP/.640 SLG/1.057 OPS line with a .307 ISO, a 179 wRC+, and a 21.5 wRAA over the last seven days. A caveat, however, they’ve been very lucky to the tune of an unsustainable .408 BABIP over that stretch. Be that as it may, Tampa Bay has done a good job of getting the important situational hits over the last four series (.300, .303, .290, .333 BA wRISP), during which the Rays took two-of-three from the Blue Jays.
Toronto has gotten toasty since the two clubs last met, winning five of seven games. It should be noted though, those five victories came against the dregs of the American League (the Royals and Orioles). Still, the Blue Jays played Tampa Bay very competitively three series ago, and more of the same can be expected this week.
The Rays are 7-2 against the Blue Jays this season, having outscored them 57-41.
Over the next three days, Kevin Cash will throw Charlie Morton (12-3, 2.78 ERA), Ryan Yarbough (10-3, 4.01 ERA) in some capacity, and Brendan McKay (2-1, 4.38 ERA). Charlie Montoyo will counter with Jacob Waguespack (2-1, 4.80 ERA), Trent Thornton (4-7, 5.23 ERA), and a pitcher to be named before the series finale.
Charlie Morton allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks across 4-2/3 innings against the Red Sox on Tuesday. He struck out two. Morton’s previous start was also against the Red Sox, and it’s clear that Boston’s hitters made some adjustments. Still, had Morton not been pulled two outs into the fifth inning, he would have been in line for the win. The right-hander is having a great season, as he is 12-3 with a 2.78 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 165 strikeouts across 136 innings. Morton is 0-0 with a 1.93 ERA in one start against the Blue Jays this season.
Jacob Waguespack allowed one run on three hits over six innings against the Royals on Tuesday. He struck out two and walked one. Waguespack completed six innings for the first time in six starts. The 25-year-old maintains a 4.80 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, and a 2.67 K/BB over 30 innings this season. Waguespack is 0-1 with a 5.00 ERA in two games (one start) against the Rays this season. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (2-5, RBI), Travis d’Arnaud (2-5, 2B, 2 RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (1-3), Austin Meadows (1-4, 3B, RBI, BB), Tommy Pham (2-4, 2B, RBI, BB)
Ryan Yarbrough allowed four runs on six hits over 4-1/3 relief innings against the Red Sox on Wednesday. He struck out three. Yarbrough served up as many homers as he generated swinging strikes (two) over 75 pitches (51 strikes, 68% strike rate) — but the Rays offense picked him up, allowing Yarbrough to earn his fifth straight win. It was the first time the left-hander allowed more than one run in an outing since June 13. He is 3-0 with a 0.82 ERA in three games (11 innings) against the Blue Jays this season.
Trent Thornton hurled six innings on Wednesday and allowed one run on five hits and no walks while striking out two. Thornton was coming off a 10-day stint on the IL with right elbow inflammation but limited Baltimore to six baserunners on five singles and a hit batsman while tossing 58 of 87 pitches for strikes (67% strike rate). He was successful despite missing few bats — he induced just six swinging strikes. The quality start came after a pair of rough post-All-Star Break outings in which the rookie surrendered nine earned runs across 4-1/3 combined frames. Thornton is now 4-7 with a 5.23 ERA and a 2.27 K/BB over 105 innings this season. He is 0-1 with a 9.39 ERA in two starts against Tampa Bay this season. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-4), Avisail Garcia (3-5, RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (2-4, 2B, 3B, RBI, BB), Austin Meadows (4-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB), Tommy Pham (1-4, BB)
Brendan McKay allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk over 5-1/3 innings against the Red Sox on Thursday. He struck out seven. McKay got off to an inauspicious start by allowing three of the first four hitters to reach base, including a two-run homer. He settled down though and left with a lead for his second big-league win. McKay was rocked for six runs in his previous outing, so Thursday’s effort was a positive sign for Tampa Bay.
— Jose Alvarado is scheduled to pitch in back-to-back games with Triple-A Durham on Tuesday and Wednesday. If all goes as planned, he will be activated from the IL this weekend on the road.
— Yandy Diaz (left foot bruise) ran on a treadmill Sunday, but there remains no timetable for his return.
— Brandon Lowe (right shin contusion) took ground balls before Sunday’s ballgame, the first time he has done so in several days. Lowe told reporters that a cortisone shot has greatly improved his rehab.
Hopefully, it keeps progressing and I’m back out there soon.— Brandon Lowe