Upon conclusion of Thursday’s game against the Angels, the Tampa Bay Rays will head west to begin a nine-game, three-city road trip with stops in Minnesota, Texas and Seattle.
As the Tampa Bay Rays prepare for their final game of the homestand against Los Angeles Angels and looking for split in the four-game series, they will have a welcomed addition back into their bullpen as Tommy Hunter was activated off the DL.
Hunter had missed the Rays last 30 games with a right calf strain sustained against the Houston Astros back in April when he attempted to cover first base. Prior to going on the DL, Hunter was 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA (8.1-IP) in ten appearances, which included six strikeouts and two walks.
To make room for Hunter, the Rays placed Jumbo Diaz on the 10-day DL with right arm fatigue retroactive to May 23. Diaz was 0-3 with a 5.49 ERA (19.2-IP) in 21 appearances. He allowed 13 runs (12 earned) on 21 hits with 17 strikeouts and 12 walks.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, via twitter reports that Diaz said his issue is that he is unable to pitch in back-to-back games. Speculation on my part was that Diaz was on his way out, but understandably, with the bullpen situation the Rays do not have many other options other than bringing up someone from Durham. The interesting move will be when Diaz is ready to come off the DL.
Thursday’s contest is the Rays 50th game of the season and with a win that could achieve a .500 record at the 50-game mark for the seventh time in 10 seasons since becoming the “Rays.” Additionally with their 223 runs scored entering the game, they will reach the 50-game mark having scored the most runs since 2013 when they had 247 over the same span.
Home runs continue to be a driving force behind the Rays offense as they are tied for second in the AL with 68 – however, they can tie or exceed the club record of 71 they set last year through 50 games with three more four-baggers today.
Tampa Bay Rays
Besides the home runs, which the Rays have pumped out 23 over their last 12 games, they lead the AL in extra-base hits (151), total bases (706) and are tied for first in triples (10). They also lead the AL in walks (192) and strikeouts (515). As well, they are tops in first inning scoring with 38 runs.
Courtesy of the Rays media department, when you have power hitters in the lineup strikeouts come with it, and for the Rays their 515 strikeouts are tops in not only the AL but the majors as well.
The numbers are astronomical as they are the most in the history of MLB through 49 games and are on pace for 1,482. In the win over the Angels on Wednesday, the Rays struck out 11 times, making it their 34th game with double-digit strikeouts. They are currently on pace for 112 DD strikeout games – that would break the major league mark of 80 set by the Houston Astros in 2013.
Amazingly, the Rays despite the strikeouts and having a losing record (24-25) heading into Thursday’s game, the Rays have outscored their opponents (223-204) and with a plus 19-run differential, it is the highest in the MLB among teams with a losing record.
Strange but true, the Rays have held leads in 34 of their last 37 games, but can only show an 18-19 mark. Additionally, in 42-of-49 (85.7%) games this season the Rays have held a lead. That percentage marks the highest in the majors despite their 10 blown saves.
Wednesday night’s win snapped the Ray’s three-game losing streak and as well, they finally were able to score a run snapping 18 innings of scoreless baseball in the second inning on Steven Souza’s first home run of the game.
Speaking of Souza, he entered the game in a horrific slump with just eight hits in 67 at-bats. His two-homer game was the first multi-hit game since April 25 against Baltimore, and his first home run was his first since April 25 and the same for his three RBIs, which were also the most in a game as well. After starting the season on tear, in which he hit .330 in April with four home runs and 17 RBIs, Souza is hitting just .136 with three home runs and nine RBIs in May, dropping his average to a season low .255
Once again the ever reliable Erasmo Ramirez was on the hill, making his third start and fell behind early allowing a two-run homer to Albert Pujols in the first inning. However, he settled down and would give the Rays six solid innings in which he allowed two runs on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts to earn his third win of the season.
Since joining the Rays in 2015, Ramirez has predominately come out of the bullpen; however, he has made 31 starts going 14-6 with a 3.32 ERA (173.1-IP) and over this span has given up two earned runs or less in 22 of the starts. His .700 winning percentage as a starter ranks fifth in the AL over this time.
Evan Longoria adds his name to the history books once again for the Rays, as his walk in the third inning passed Ben Zobrist for the franchise record with 543 of his career. The new addition to the record book join his franchise records of home runs, doubles, extra-base hits, games and total bases.