After two exceptional weeks of baseball (you can read about those here and here), the Tampa Bay Rays took a step back towards Earth this week. The Rays dropped four out six games against two teams that a World Series chasing team shouldn’t be losing to.
With that in mind, this week was not just bad for the Rays record. The Rays, a team with a pretty darn full injury list, added a couple more players to that list this week. New reliever Cody Reed was placed on the IL with finger irritation, and Ji-Man Choi will likely miss the remainder of the regular season with a Grade-1 hamstring strain.
Reed and Choi join a whole host of important Rays on the IL. Starting catcher Mike Zunino and third baseman Yandy Diaz are nearing a return, but there still isn’t a set timetable for either. The bullpen will be missing Jose Alvarado for the rest of the season, as he was added to the 60-day IL with shoulder inflammation.
All things considered, the Rays were due for a slow week. They have relied on the long ball to put runs up on the board, and sooner or later the homers stop coming. The pitching staff has been decimated from top to bottom, and many of the Rays’ important hurlers are just returning. With some more time on the diamond, the Rays should return to winning ways soon enough.
The Last Week
The Tampa Bay Rays started off last week with a winnable two-game set against the reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals. The Nats appear to have a level of World Series hangover and have struggled this season.
Monday’s game against the Rays saw a pitching matchup between Charlie Morton and Max Scherzer. Scherzer had an incredible outing, recording seven scoreless innings. The Rays’ staff couldn’t keep the Nationals from scoring. Rays lose 6-1.
The next day got off to a similar start, with Ryan Yarbrough only lasting two and two-thirds innings, giving up four runs in the process. However, the Rays had some life at the plate. It wouldn’t be enough though. Rays lose 5-3.
The Rays got an off day before taking on the Boston Red Sox for four games. Rookie lefty Josh Fleming had his first real struggle on the mound. He allowed three earned runs over four and one-third inning. The Rays were able to tie the game with a homer each from Hunter Renfroe and Brandon Lowe. The tie wouldn’t last though, Rays lose 4-3.
The Rays snapped their slide in spectacular fashion on Friday. Blake Snell took the mound and tossed five and a third lights out innings. The offense got going, hitting three homers. Rays win 11-1.
Saturday saw a much tighter game between the two clubs. Tyler Glasnow allowed four runs in seven innings and whiffed seven in the process. The Rays offense did just enough to get the job done, as Brandon Lowe hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the seventh. Rays win 5-4.
The Red Sox got the split Sunday afternoon. Morton took the mound again, this time allowing three runs. The Rays kept themselves in it until the sixth when they allowed a two-run homer. Red Sox win 6-3.
AL East Standings
Tampa Bay Rays: 30-17 Toronto Blue Jays: 26-20 New York Yankees: 26-21 Baltimore Orioles: 20-26 Boston Red Sox: 17-31
Batter of the Week
0.333/0.347/0.556, 2 RBI, 2 HR
Brandon Lowe struggled through the last few weeks. This week, however, we saw a return to form from Lowe.
He led the team in average and hits, and he had a few clutch hits. He smacked a homer that tied the second game against the Red Sox, even if the draw was temporary. His more important hit was his game-winning home run on Saturday.
Pitcher of the Week
1 W, 3.23 ERA, 5.1 IP, 5 K
Blake Snell only got one start this week thanks to the off day, but he pitched very well in his mound appearance. He got his fastball working early, striking at least one batter out with a fastball high in the zone.
Snell also seems to be working back his curveball and command. He only walked two batters over five innings and limited the Sox to just five hits.
The Week Ahead
The Rays get into a very condensed end of their regular season. On Monday, the team has another off day before playing seven games in six days.
The Tampa Bay Rays host the Washington Nationals for another two-game set, and they hope to get a little revenge. The Nats are starting Anibal Sanchez in the first game, a pitcher the Rays faced last week in one of their two losses. The Rays are using an opener in John Curtiss.
The second game against the Nationals doesn’t have a listed starter for the Rays, but it can be assumed that Snell or Fleming will take the mound. The Nationals are starting Austin Voth in his first career start against the Rays.
The rest of the week is all Baltimore Orioles. The Rays have a doubleheader on Thursday, and games at Camden Yard for the weekend.
The Rays are almost locked into a playoff spot at this point, and a strong week against opponents that the Rays have struggled against at times would be great for the team’s confidence leading into the last week of the season.
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