After falling 3-1 on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays look to bounce back tonight at the Trop.

At 57-31 on the season, the Rays enter play 26 games over .500 and 6.0 games up on the second-place Orioles in the division.

Zach Eflin allowed two runs on four hits over seven innings against the Phillies. He struck out nine and threw 102 pitches (72 strikes, 71% strike rate). Eflin logged his fourth consecutive quality start while also striking out seven or more batters for the third straight time. The start continued what could be a career year for Eflin, as the 29-year-old boasts what would be his best ERA (3.24), FIP (3.10), BB/9 (1.39), and HR/9 (0.9) of his big-league career, while also ranking third in MLB in K/BB (6.67) this season.

Meanwhile, the Rays offense couldn’t get much of anything started. Only Wander Franco (2-4, HR, run, RBI), Harold Ramírez (1-1), Randy Arozarena (1-4), Brandon Lowe (1-4), Isaac Paredes, (1 BB), and Christian Bethancourt (1-4) reached base on six hits and a walk. However, the team went just 1-7 wRISP (.143 BA). José Siri, B. Lowe, and Luke Raley each stranded runners in scoring position with two outs, pouring cold water on Tampa Bay’s three biggest scoring opportunities.

Only Franco crossed the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning when he launched a solo home run (10) to left-center field for the Rays’ sole run.

In brighter news, Franco was nominated to the 2023 All-Star squad after the ball game joining Shane McClanahan, Yandy Díaz, and Arozarena.

Tampa Bay is now 7-8 on the Fourth of July extending back to 2008.

Ahead of tonight’s game, the Rays recalled Luis Patiño from Triple-A Durham and optioned Jalen Beeks in a corresponding move.

Patiño has been on a nice run in Durham’s bullpen. The right-hander has made six consecutive scoreless appearances, striking out six and walking four while giving up three hits across 5.2 innings over that stretch. Overall, he maintains a 6.59 ERA and a 6.76 FIP, with a 1.71 WHIP, and a 1.42 K/BB across 41.0 Triple-A innings.

Patiño will be available as Tampa Bay tries to figure out their pitching the next two days, with opener Zack Littell starting in front of bulk guy Yonny Chirinos tonight, and Thursday’s pitching plan yet to be announced.

He will fill the spot vacated by Beeks, the left-hander who had been in the Rays’ bullpen all season until he was sent down in mid-June. Beeks was recalled on Saturday, and allowed three runs over 1.1 innings in an 8-3 loss to Seattle, then gave up one run in two innings yesterday.

The New What Next

Yonny Chirinos (4-3, 3.64 ERA, 5.04 FIP) will pitch behind Zach Littell tonight, pitching opposite Taijuan Walker (9-3, 3.93 ERA, 4.35 FIP).

Yonny Chirinos allowed a run on seven hits and three walks while striking out four over six innings on 84 pitches (53 strikes, 63% strike rate, 5 swinging strikes, 6% SwStr%). After Zack Littell opened the game with two scoreless frames, Chirinos delivered six strong frames as the bulk guy, allowing just one run on Lourdes Gurriel’s homer. It was an encouraging effort from the 29-year-old Chirinos after he was tagged for eight runs in his last turn against the Royals. Chirinos lowered his ERA to 3.64 — although that’s belied by a 5.04 FIP — with a 1.20 WHIP, and 1.42 K/BB through 54.1 innings this season.

Taijuan Walker allowed a run on six hits and a walk while striking out six over six innings on 94 pitches (57 strikes, 61% strike rate, 8 swinging strikes, 8% SwStr%) against the Cubs. Walker had an excellent June, allowing just six runs over 36 innings (six starts) and posting a 3.4 K/BB for the month. After some uneven performances early on, he’s settled down with a 3.93 ERA and a 4.35 FIP, with a 1.23 WHIP, and a 2.33 K/BB over 89.1 innings through (17 starts) on the season. Walker relies primarily on an 89 mph hard splitter that has some natural sink to it and slight arm-side fade and a 93 mph sinker that has slight arm-side run, while also mixing in a whiffy 94 mph fourseam fastball, an 88 mph cutter, and an 84 mph slider that has short glove-side cut.

You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below.

Rays 7/5/23 Starting Lineup

  1. Díaz DH
  2. Franco SS
  3. Raley 1B
  4. Arozarena LF
  5. B. Lowe 2B
  6. Margot CF
  7. J. Lowe RF
  8. Walls 3B
  9. Mejia C