The Tampa Bay Rays returned to winning ways after a hiccup last week, securing a playoff berth in the process. The team had a condensed week, playing seven games in just six days. Their two opponents, the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles struggled against a Tampa team that continues to get healthier leading up to the playoffs.
This week saw the return of two important Rays. Oliver Drake, well known for absolutely disgusting pitches like this, returned to the bullpen. The righty should be welcomed back to the decimated group with open arms, even as he had to shake off the rust in his return.
The other important returner was starting catcher Mike Zunino. While he may be a liability at the plate, his defensive prowess cannot go understated. The Rays’ staff appears to love pitching to Zunino for his solid framing and blocking abilities. Even with this pair returning, there are still a few noticeable absences from the lineup.
The Rays are going to be without slugger Ji Man Choi down the stretch as he hit the IL with his hamstring. While some of the other main sources of offense for the Rays have dried up, Choi came through. Another player still on the shelf is Yandy Diaz. The third baseman had just started to produce at a high level again when he went down. Diaz should be ready to return for the playoffs.
The Last Week
The Tampa Bay Rays were lucky enough to start last week with a day off. They used that time to rest and prepare for the incoming Nationals. The Rays were poor in the nation’s capital last week and didn’t want a repeat performance.
In the first game, the Rays returned to their opener concept, as John Curtiss got the nod. He made way for Ryan Yarbrough, who went five and 1/3 innings to get the win. The Rays offense came alive and sent six across the dish. Rays win 6-1.
Game Two against the Nationals wouldn’t go quite as well. The midday matinee was a bullpen day for the Rays, as seven pitchers graced the mound. Tied at two after nine innings, the Nationals’ youngster Luis Garcia crushed a two-run blast off of Nick Anderson. Rays lose 4-2.
The Rays opened a five-game set at Camden Yard with a doubleheader on Thursday. The first saw Blake Snell deal for 5-1/3 innings, only allowing one run on two hits. The clubs were tied going into the seventh frame, but two sacrifice RBIs led the Rays to a 3-1 win.
The second half of the doubleheader, the makeup for the mutually skipped game on August 27, was much more high scoring than the first. Reliever Trevor Richards got the start, and the Rays hit three homers. They would put up 10 total en route to a 10-6 win.
In another swing in the series, the third game was even lower scoring than the first. Tyler Glasnow whiffed ten batters over five innings, and former Ray, Alex Cobb, pitched a good game as well. There would be zero runs scored over the last five innings, but the Rays did just enough. Rays win 2-1.
Saturday’s game saw Charlie Morton’s full return to the mound. He was allowed to pitch for a full five innings, striking out six in the process. The Rays scored a winning pair of runs in the fifth by way of a Randy Arozarena homer. Rays win 3-1.
Even in a loss, the Rays pitched well. Sunday saw a true pitching duel between Ryan Yarbrough and John Means. Yarbs threw seven innings, and only allowed two runs. Means, on the other hand, tossed five and 2/3 innings, accumulating 12 strikeouts in that short time. The Rays couldn’t get much done at the plate and lost 2-1 to close out the week.
AL East Standings
Tampa Bay Rays: 35-19 NY Yankees: 31-22 Toronto Blue Jays: 27-26 Baltimore Orioles: 23-31 Boston Red Sox: 20-34
Tampa Bay Rays Batter of the Week
0.364/0.464/0.545, 8 H, 3 RBI
Arguably the Rays’ best player this season, Lowe had another strong week in the box. He hit well overall, including in a couple of pinch-hitting scenarios. But what he did best was in the clutch.
He hit the tying home run in the bottom of the ninth against the Nationals in a losing effort. Later in the week, he plated the winner against the Orioles. Lowe has shown that he can perform under pressure, and will be a huge part of any Rays’ postseason success.
Tampa Bay Rays Pitcher of the Week
1 W, 5 IP, 10 K, 1.20 WHIP
Glasnow looked back to his truly dominant self against the Orioles this week. He only gave up four hits, and the run he allowed was a solo home run.
Glasnow’s fastball/curveball combo was on full display. He led with his fastball high, came back with either pitch and finished with his classic dropping curve or low four-seamer. When Glasnow is dealing, he is one tough customer for any team.
The Week Ahead
The Rays start next week against one of the hottest teams in baseball. In their only meeting of the season, the Rays travel to Citi Field to take on the Mets in a three-game set. Game one will see a tough matchup between Pete Fairbanks opening for the Rays and one of the best pitchers in baseball, Jacob deGrom. Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow will pitch in the other two games against the Mets.
The Rays then get a day off before heading home for their last three games of the regular season. They host another strong NL East squad in the Phillies. If the Rays can finish strong, they have a good chance at not just winning the AL East, but also having the best record in the American League. Playoffs look out! Here come the Rays!
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