The Tampa Bay Rays went into Boston with revenge on their mind after the Red Sox swept the Rays a week ago, and left having swept the World Series champions. Now, the Rays head to Kansas City where they look to avenge the 10-2 shellacking they were handed last Wednesday when they start a four-game series against the Royals on Monday. The Royals are coming off a series loss to the Angels.
The Rays were able to do a couple of things well in Boston which stands in contrast to the previous series: hit the ball with runners in scoring position, and pitch the ball. A week ago Tampa Bay hit just .235 wRISP, while the bullpen coughed up five runs with two outs. Compare that with their most recent series, when they didn’t allow a single two-out run — even though the ‘pen bent on Saturday but didn’t break — and hit .308 wRISP.
While the Royals sit at the bottom of their respective division, they have, essentially, matched the Rays offense over the last 14 days. They also are a better run-scoring team than Boston; a -36 differential vs. a -21 differential (respectively) speaks to that.
Moving forward, Tampa Bay saw what Kansas City is capable of on Wednesday — they will again face Jake Junis (who held them to just one run) on Tuesday — and they should not take the Royals for granted. After all, the Rays bullpen allowed five two-out runs in the series finale last week.
The Rays are 2-1 against the Royals this season and swept the Royals at Kauffman Stadium in 2018.
Kevin Cash will lean on Yonny Chirinos (3-0, 3.55 ERA) — who will follow opener Ryne Stanek (0-0, 1.32 ERA) on Monday — Blake Snell (2-2, 2.54 ERA), bulk innings guy Jalen Beeks (1-0, 3.32 ERA), and Charlie Morton (3-0, 2.76 ERA). Ned Yost will respond with Brad Keller (2-2, 3.41 ERA), Jake Junis (2-2, 5.57 ERA), Danny Duffy (0-1, 5.40 ERA), and Jorge Lopez (0-2, 5.08 ERA).
Ryne Stanek held Boston hitless but walked one batter over two innings as an opener on Friday. The right-hander was efficient, recording six outs on just 14 pitches. Stanek has a sparkling 1.32 ERA and 0.79 WHIP as an opener, totaling 11-1/3 innings.
Yonny Chirinos gave up three runs on six hits and a walk over six innings of work while striking out three. Three of the six hits the right-hander allowed left the yard, but the right-hander did a good job keeping runners off base before the blasts. Chirinos now has a pair of quality starts under his belt even though he is technically considered a bulk guy. Whatever his role, Chirinos has performed to a 3.55 ERA and a 4.4 K/BB over 25-1/3 innings this season.
Brad Keller coughed up five runs on seven hits and three walks over 6-1/3 innings against the Rays in his last start. He struck out three in the 6-3 loss. The right-hander nursed a 3-2 lead after six innings, but Mike Zunino clubbed a two-run home run to center field, chasing Keller from the game. He’ll take a 3.41 ERA and 1.45 K/BB across 37 innings into his next start, on Monday. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-3, 3B), Avisail Garcia (3-11, 2B, RBI, BB), Kevin Kiermaier (1-3), Brandon Lowe (1-3, 2B, RBI), Tommy Pham (2-3, 3B, BB)
Blake Snell allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits with three strikeouts and two walks across 3-1/3 innings on Wednesday. In his first game back since fracturing his toe, Snell wasn’t particularly sharp and was lifted after 65 pitches. He, however, had yielded one run and struck out 33 in his last 19 innings prior to the injury. His 0.92 WHIP, .204 batting average against, and 39 strikeouts across 28-1/3 total innings stand as his most impressive marks. He figures to be available for 80-plus pitches this time around.
Jake Junis left his start Wednesday against Tampa Bay with a right-hand contusion which he suffered on a line drive up the middle. Junis was in the midst of a good start prior to the injury, allowing just one run on four hits over five innings, striking out six while walking two. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (2-3, 2B), Kevin Kiermaier (3-8, 2B, BB), Brandon Lowe (2-4, 2 RBI), Micahel Perez (1-4, BB)
Jalen Beeks was great against the Royals on Tuesday, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out seven over 4-2/3 innings. Beeks followed opener Ryne Stanek into the game and maintained a four-run cushion to secure his first win of the season. The right-hander worked within the strike zone, racking up 17 called strikes. It was a good showing from Beeks, who now has struck out 20 batters in 19 innings on the season.
Danny Duffy allowed three runs on five hits and three walks over five innings while striking out in his first start of the season after being activated from the Injured List prior to Friday’s start. The left-hander wasn’t particularly sharp throwing 51 of 86 pitches for strikes (59% strike rate). Duffy relies primarily on a 94 mph four-seam fastball with some added backspin and a firm 78 mph curveball slight glove-side movement, while also mixing in a whiffy 93 mph sinker with neither sink nor run, a hard 87 mph slider with little depth, and a hard 87 mph changeup with added backspin. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-3, RBI), Yandy Diaz (1-3), Avisail Garcia (12-36, 2 2B, RBI, 2 BB), Mike Zunino (2-8, 2B, BB)
Charlie Morton faced Boston for the second consecutive start and allowed just two hits and four walks across six innings of work, on 102 pitches (61 strikes, 60% strike rate). The right-hander didn’t have his best stuff, yet he still kept the Red Sox off the board. Morton worked out of a jam in the second inning — striking out Jackie Bradley Jr. and getting Christian Vazquez to ground out to short after allowing a pair of base runners with one out.
Boston again threatened in the third when Mookie Betts reached base on an infield single then advanced into scoring position on a throwing error by Willy Adames. Betts moved into third on a wild pitch, but the right-hander came up with a big strikeout against Xander Bogaerts to end the threat.
Morton got a little help from Zunino in the fourth when he picked Rafael Devers off first base to get the first out of the frame. Even though Michael Chavis drew a walk one pitch later, Tampa Bay turned a 6-4-3 double play to close out the inning. Morton coaxed a second double play an inning later, in the fifth.
Jorge Lopez allowed four runs on six hits and three walks across 3-2/3 innings while striking out two. The right-hander was staked to a 7-1 lead after three innings, but Lopez couldn’t find the plate and threw only 37 of 77 pitches for strikes (48% strike rate) before Yost turned to the ‘pen. He’ll take a 5.08 ERA and 2.58 K/BB across 32-2/3 innings into his start against the Rays. Lopez relies primarily on his 93 mph sinker with slight arm side run, a firm 81 mph curveball with 12/6 movement, and a 94 mph four-seam fastball with some natural sinking action, while also mixing in an 89 mph 12/6 slider, and a firm 87 mph changeup with natural sink and fade. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-2, RBI), Ji-Man Choi (1-1, BB), Kevin Kiermaier (2-2, 2B)
— The Rays announced a pair of roster moves ahead of their series against the Royals.
The team will promote 1B Nate Lowe, their minor-league player of the year in 2018, and option INF Christian Arroyo back to Triple-A Durham. The prodigious hitting Lowe is batted .300 with three home runs and 14 runs batted at Durham, with a .987 OPS. Meanwhile, Arroyo had not fared well since being promoted to the big leagues, going 0-6 with five strikeouts and one walk.