After salvaging the final game of what would otherwise be considered a disastrous series against the Mariners, the Tampa Bay Rays will make their way to Charm City, where they’ll face the Orioles over the next four days. The Orioles took two of three from Kansas City at home.
Even though the Rays’ offense has not fired on all cylinders of late, they were able to average 4.67 runs per game against the Mariners, up from two runs per game against Detroit. The pitching staff, however, appeared incapable of corraling the tepid Seattle offense. Tampa Bay allowed 22 runs to cross the plate, half of which came with two outs.
Meanwhile, the lowly Orioles handed it to the lowly Royals this week, outscoring them 16-6. However, don’t confuse a two-game win streak for an indicator of anything other than the fact that sometimes the moon is blue. After all, Baltimore has won just five of the last 20 games, and seven games since the All-Star Break.
The Rays are 8-4 against the Orioles this season, including a 4-2 record at Camden Yards. Considering that they could use a few buffer wins before they head to Houston, Tampa Bay needs to win this series.
Aside from Ryan Yarbrough (11-3, 3.34 ERA), Kevin Cash has not named any starters for games two through four of this series. Trevor Richards (0-0, 5.40 ERA), a pitcher to be named before Saturday’s ballgame, and Jalen Beeks (5-3, 4.10 ERA) are expected to pitch during the series. Brandon Hyde will counter with Asher Wojciechowski (2-6, 4.84 ERA), Ty Blach (0-1, 10.61 ERA), John Means (6-9, 3.94 ERA), and Dylan Bundy (5-13, 5.03 ERA).
Ryan Yarbrough fanned 10 batters while allowing zero runs on three hits with no walks across 6-1/3 innings. Even though he didn’t go as deep into the game, the southpaw was arguably better in this outing than his last one, extending his scoreless streak to 15 frames. His 10 strikeouts were a season-high, and Yarbrough has allowed just one earned run in his last 19-2/3 innings of (0.47 ERA). He further lowered his ERA 3.34 ERA (down from 8.10 at its peak, in April), his WHIP to 0.88, and has 88 punchouts in 105 innings this season. Taking into consideration all of the injuries that have impacted the Rays starting rotation, the team has gained an opportunity to see how good Yarbrough can be. To his credit, the southpaw has taken advantage of pitching without an opener and should get to keep doing so.
Asher Wojciechowski allowed two runs on five hits and three walks across 4-1/3 innings against Boston. He struck out four. The right-hander managed to keep the Red Sox off the board through four innings, but the wheels came off in the fifth. Wojciechowski carries a 4.78 ERA and a 2.8 K/BB over 49 innings this season. He is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two outings (one start) against Tampa Bay this season. Key Matchup: Tommy Pham (2-7, 2B, RBI, BB)
Trevor Richards allowed two runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out six over 3-1/3 innings on Sunday. The right-hander surrendered a two-run homer in the first inning, yet he was able to hold Detroit off the board for the remainder of his outing. He was lifted with 71 pitches (51 strikes, 72% strike rate), as the Rays continue to build him back up to a starting role. Richards now owns a 4.53 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP with a 2.10 K/BB across 115-1/3 big league innings this season.
Ty Blach allowed five runs on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts across 5-1/3 innings against the Red Sox on Sunday. Baltimore staked Blach to a six-run lead, but the Red Sox scored 13 of the final 14 runs in the game, five of which came against Blach. He has allowed at least five runs in three of his four outings this season, so that’s led to some ugly numbers. He is 0-1 with a 12.06 ERA and a 2.30 WHIP with 13 strikeouts and 10 walks across 15-2/3 innings this season. Blach relies upon a heavy 90 mph four-seam fastball with arm-side run and an 80 mph changeup with natural sink, while also mixing in a 76 mph curveball with sharp downward bite and an 83 mph worm-killer slider.
John Means gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks over five innings against the Royals. He struck out five. The southpaw continues to struggle in the second half and is now 1-5 in six starts since the All-Star break with a 7.48 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, and a 1.9 K/BB through 27-2/3 innings. Monday’s outing was the first time during that stretch he didn’t serve up a homer. Tampa Bay worked Means over in his last appearance against them, tagging him for six runs on eight hits including three homers. Key Matchups: Mike Brosseau (2-6, 2 HR, 3 RBI), Guillermo Heredia (2-6, 2B), Erik Sogard (2-3, HR, RBI)
Jalen Beeks gave up four runs (two earned) on four hits and three walks while striking out four across five innings on Tuesday against the Mariners. Beeks entered the game in the second inning and turned in three scoreless frames to begin his night. However, things took a turn for the worse when an error allowed the leadoff runner to reach base in the fifth innings, and Beeks went on to allow two hits, a walk, and a wild pitch to account for his two unearned runs. An inning later, he gave up a two-run homer to Tom Murphy, the deciding hit of the contest. Beeks hasn’t been good in the second half, as his ERA has ballooned from 2.79 to 4.10 in seven appearances.
Dylan Bundy allowed one run on five hits with two walks over seven innings against the Royals on Tuesday. He struck out seven. The right-hander turned in his best start in more than a month, yet he settled for a no-decision because of no offense early in the game. Overall, he is 5-13 with a 5.03 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP, with 129 strikeouts in 127 innings this season. Bundy is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts (13-1/3 innings) against Tampa Bay this season. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (2-7, 2B, RBI), Travis d’Arnaud (1-1, RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (5-15, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, BB), Austin Meadows (2-5, 2B, RBI, 2 BB)
— Not the best rehab news for Brandon Lowe, who was removed from a game in Durham with a left quadriceps strain, which is an unrelated injury to his bruised right leg. He will return to St. Petersburg to be re-evaluated.
— Avisail Garcia (oblique) will begin a short minor league rehab assignment Thursday with Triple-A Durham. If all goes well, he could rejoin the team by the weekend.