Tampa Bay Rays News, Notes and Quotes

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27: Tommy Hunter (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27: Tommy Hunter (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff is doing their job, now if only the hitters can get back on track and the two meshes together a trip to the postseason could become reality.

The Tampa Bay Rays will conclude their current home stand on Sunday afternoon against Cleveland, which included a stretch of 17 straight games against teams contending for a playoff spot. However, they still have games remaining against every team they trail or are tied with for the AL Wild Card or in the AL East.

With their 4-1 win against the Indians on Thursday, the Rays moved back in the AL Wild Card sharing the second spot with the Seattle Mariners. They also gained a half-game against Boston and a full game against the Yankees. It seems as though it was only yesterday that the Rays were a seven games over .500 and two games back of Boston, however that was on July 19. Since then, the Rays record of 8-13 has dropped them into third place, seven games behind the Red Sox.

Despite their recent hitting woes, the Rays continue to hit the long ball. Logan Morrison, Corey Dickerson, Steven Souza Jr. and Lucas Duda all have 20 or more home runs, tying the Rays with Cincinnati and Baltimore with four players to have accomplished this.

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Overall, home run wise the Rays currently rank fourth in the AL with 163 four-baggers, trailing the Astros (186), Rangers (175), and Orioles (167). Additionally, they are on pace for a new club record of 228, breaking the record set last year when they hit 216. They also lead MLB and have set a new franchise record with 12 back-to-back home runs.

Rays pitching has been outstanding thus far in August, despite having a 5-4 record and being outscored, they lead the majors in ERA with a 2.44 (81 innings pitched). The starters lead the AL with a 3.96 ERA and they rank second in the AL in innings pitched with 665.2 behind the Red Sox who lead with 683.

From the Rays PR Department, on the current home stand in which the Rays have gone 2-4, the starters are 0-4 but have pitched to a 1.57 ERA and have pitched into the sixth inning. They have also held the opposition to one run or fewer in five of the six games.

Last night saw the return of Blake Snell filling in for Alex Cobb (DL-turf toe) and despite getting a no-decision, pitched comparatively better than in his previous starts. He gave up only one run on four hits in 6.1 innings, struck out four and gave up just two walks.

In throwing 101 pitches, Statcast recorded that 65 of those pitches were fastballs and only one of the four hits came via the fastball.

“We had a chance to win the game simply because of Blake Snell’s performance. It was outstanding,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He commanded all of his pitches, pitched out of some tough jams. A couple of leadoff doubles, a couple of walks here and there. But as far as commanding the baseball and making big pitches when he had to, that’s a huge step in the right direction.

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The bullpen has been getting the job done, despite some lumps and bumps along the way. In their last seven wins in which the bullpen has been used, they have not allowed a run in 20.2 innings pitched. Additionally, the bullpen has given up only nine hits, with 19 strikeouts and only six walks.

Tommy Hunter continues to shine and with his 1.2 innings of shutout ball last night, he has not given up a run in 19 of his last 20 appearances. On the season, Hunter is 2-2 with a 1.58 ERA (42 games) with 43 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 40 innings pitched, while holding opposing hitters to a .194 average.

Closer Alex Colome notched his 34th save last night increasing his AL lead over Roberto Osuna (29) and is now tied with Greg Holland of the Rockies for the major league lead in saves. In getting that save, Colome earned the 71st of his career tying him with Danys Baez for third on the All-Time Rays list

"“Tommy Hunter was outstanding. You see it when these guys are rested well with Tommy and Alex and what they are capable of. Tommy picked us up in a big way,” said Kevin Cash in his post game on Tommy Hunter and Alex Colome’s performance."

Colome is on pace for 42 saves and Holland for 43… so there is that possibility that Colome could become the first closer in Rays history to lead the majors. If he holds on to the AL lead, he would join Rafael Soriano (2010) and Brad Boxberger (2015) as the only Rays closer’s to lead the AL in saves.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that pitcher Jose De Leon on a rehab assignment with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, had another setback when he left his start on Wednesday due to tightness. Acquired in the Logan Forsythe trade this off-season from the Dodgers, he has pitched just 38.1 innings with two stints on the disabled list. Via Twitter, Topkin updated that De Leon could have elbow tendinitis.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Alex Colome owns his past

Also, Topkin via Twitter tweets that Kevin Kiermaier is will start his rehab assignment on Saturday with Charlotte, and finally pitcher Matt Andriese (hip stress reaction) is set to begin his rehab assignment with Charlotte on Sunday and could return around August 28.