Tampa Bay Rays: Blake Snell returns in search of a sweep

Blake Snell (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Blake Snell (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Blake Snell will take the mound today after missing his last scheduled start due to a fractured toe. The Tampa Bay Rays are in search of their first series sweep of the year.

With last night’s win, the Tampa Bay Rays secured yet another series win and Major League Baseball’s best record, at 16-8. After losing 4 straight, including 3 at the hands of the Boston Red Sox, the Rays have gotten back on track.

Now with Blake Snell returning to the bump earlier than expected, the Rays have their eyes set on a 3 game winning streak prior to their arrival at Fenway where they will look to even the score.

A win would not only give the Rays a series sweep, but also a winning home-stand which was in jeopardy after getting swept by the Sox.

Today’s “bumpday” will be Snell’s 5th of the year. He is 2-1 with 36 strikeouts in 25 innings. The Rays ace and Cy Young award winner has picked up right where he left off and with a strong start today against the Royals, he can bring his ERA to below 2.00.

At the plate, the Rays are mashing. Mike Zunino returned a man on mission after the birth of his first son, Rhett. Since his return, Zunino has gone 4-6, with 2 bombs and 4 runs batted in.

Brandon Lowe has been fantastic to this point, slashing .280/.333/.585 with 6 bombs and 23 runs batted in. His 6 homers match his total from last year, in which he played 43 games compared to the 23 he has played in this season. His 6 home runs are also tied for the team lead.

Rather than finding ways to lose like they did against the Red Sox, this series the Rays have found a way to win. On Monday, the Rays trailed for a majority of the game prior to tying and taking the lead in the 7th inning. Last night, the Rays jumped out to an early 4 run lead and never looked back.

Emilio Pagan has been a welcome addition to a pen that was searching for answers last week. Across 6 innings of work, he has yet to surrender a hit. He has struck out 6 while only walking 1.

The Rays enter today with the best record in baseball thanks to a league leading 2.82 team ERA. The young staff also leads the league in strikeouts and have walked the 5th least amount of batters in the league.

At the pate, the Rays lay claim to the 7th best team average in baseball (.262), the 9th best SLG in baseball (.459), and the 7th best OPS (.799).

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If they keep this up, they will remain one of the best, if not the best team in baseball. Let’s see if they can close out the home-stand with a sweep and their league leading 17th win.