Back to the Trop, where the Rays are 47-24 on the season, for a 10-game home stand. (Photo Credit: X-Rays Spex)

After dropping three of five to the Blue Jays, yet punctuating Thursday’s getaway game with an 11-0 lashing, the Tampa Bay Rays return to the friendly confines of the Trop, where they will start a three-game series against the Rangers on Friday. Texas split a two-game set against the Athletics.

At 80-63 on the season, the Rays enter play 0.5 games back of the Blue Jays in the division and in the American League Wildcard race with 19 left to play.

The Rays are now 5-5 in their last 10, yet they still hold a playoff spot and maintain a 4.5-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles. Be that as it may, they will need to continue winning if they want to make the postseason. Unfortunately, wins were not easy to come by against the Yankees and Blue Jays even though they could and should have won the series in Toronto. Tampa Bay ran into the bad luck dragons over the last two weeks, putting up a .281 BABIP — 17 points under their .298 BABIP on the season — which undoubtedly impacted the outcome of the previous series.

The Rangers are currently 4-6 in their last 10 games. Texas’ poor play has allowed them to continue sliding in the wrong direction. At the plate, they are averaging 4.56 runs per game (the 12th most runs scored per game) and they are hitting .243 as a team (the 14th highest overall team batting average), and they have shown that they can consistently reach base safely this season. The Rangers have also shown that they have a serious amount of pop tucked inside the lineup, putting up a .262 ISO and a .525 SLG over the last 14 days. They have multiple guys that can change this game with one swing of the bat. But, they have struggled when they have men in scoring position.

The Rays split the previous series against the Rangers, in Arlington, two games apiece.

Pitching Probables

Kevin Cash will turn to Corey Kluber (10-8, 4.36 ERA), Ryan Yarbrough (1-8, 4.38 ERA) in some capacity, and Jeffrey Springs (8-4, 2.41 ERA) over the next three days. Christopher Woodward will counter with Martin Perez (11-6, 2.77 ERA), Jon Gray (7-6, 3.79 ERA), and Glenn Otto (6-8, 4.71 ERA).

Corey Kluber made the shortest start of his career on Saturday, allowing six runs on eight hits over two-thirds of an inning. He did not record a strikeout or a walk. Kluber simply did not have it on this particular afternoon. His offerings were bereft of the movement he typically gets, while they also found too much plate. The Yankees started the home half of the first inning with seven consecutive singles, and an eighth single in the frame ultimately chased Kluber from the ball game. The right-hander had turned in four consecutive quality starts coming into Saturday’s contest, and there wasn’t any indication of an injury from the team afterward. In four starts against the Bronx Bummers, Kluber compiled a minuscule 1.08 ERA with 20 punchouts across 25 frames. And in his most recent outing against them last weekend, Kluber tossed a season-high seven scoreless innings.

Martin Perez allowed one earned run on six hits and two walks while striking out seven over six innings against the Blue Jays on Sunday. Perez continued his strong 2022 campaign with a quality start that ended Toronto’s then three-game winning streak. Perez never got into any serious trouble and lowered his ERA to 2.77 with the outing to go along with a 3.21 FIP, a 2.74 K/BB, and a 1.23 WHIP across 172.0 innings. Perez tossed a shutout across seven innings in his previous start against the Rays. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (3-12, HR, RBI), Yandy Díaz (8-22, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB), Wander Franco (1-2, 2B, 2 RBI), Francisco Mejía (2-5), Taylor Walls (1-2)

Ryan Yarbrough covered five scoreless innings out of the bullpen on Sunday against the Yankees. He struck out three and gave up two hits while issuing no walks. Coming into the day, the left-hander hadn’t been expected to pitch, but the Rays needed him to mop up after starter Luis Patiño recorded just four outs before departing. Even though he was excellent in long relief, Yarbrough’s performance didn’t mean much since he entered the contest with the Rays trailing by nine runs. Overall, he maintains a 4.38 ERA and a 4.31 FIP, with a 2.90 K/BB, and a 1.33 WHIP across 76.0 innings. Yarbrough tossed a quality start in his previous outing against Texas, surrendering three runs on six hits (including two homers) across 6.2 innings.

Jon Gray (strained oblique) has been out since the start of August, and many assumed he wouldn’t make it back in time for the end of the season, yet he returned on the 12th in a contest against Miami and surrendered one run on three hits across 3.2 innings. He had a 2.65 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and a 10.7 K/9 in the 11 starts leading up to the outing when he incurred the injury. All told, he maintains a 3.79 ERA and a 3.37 FIP, with a 3.56 K/BB, and a 1.16 WHIP across 107.0 innings. Gray was dominant against Tampa Bay in his previous start against them, allowing just one run on three scattered hits (including a homer) across seven innings while striking out 12. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (1-3, HR, RBI), Yandy Díaz (1-2, BB), Francisco Mejía (2-7), David Peralta (18-42, 2 2B, 2 3B, 5 RBI, 2 BB), Harold Ramírez (1-3), José Siri (1-3)

Jeffrey Springs allowed three hits and two walks over six scoreless innings in the first game of a doubleheader in Toronto. He struck out five. Springs didn’t let a Toronto baserunner get past second base as he extended his current scoreless streak to 16.2 innings. He also delivered his fifth quality start of the season, and since moving into the rotation at the beginning of May, he boasts a 2.55 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and 4.31 K/BB through 106 innings. Springs allowed two runs on two hits and two walks across five innings in his previous start against Texas. He struck out seven.

Glenn Otto gave up two runs on three hits and two walks over six innings against Miami on Monday. He struck out two. The right-hander exited the game in line for his ninth loss of the year, although Texas’ offense got going in the seventh inning. The quality start was Otto’s sixth of the season, but three of them have come in eight outings since the beginning of August, a stretch during which he sports a 3.37 ERA and a 1.65 K/BB through 42.2 innings. In his previous start against the Rays, Otto allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and three walks. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (1-3), Wander Franco (1-2, RBI, BB), Isaac Paredes (1-2, 2B), José Siri (2-4)