The visiting Tampa Bay Rays know they need to take better advantage of their scoring chances on Saturday in a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Rays saw their losing streak reached four games on Friday afternoon when they fell 9-2 to the Blue Jays in the second game of a five-game series.
The Rays stranded 11 runners and were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position in what has become a common theme in recent games.
“We know that’s not going to get it done,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve got to find ways to capitalize when guys get on base.
“It’s encouraging that we are on base and we are getting the hits. We’re just not getting the big hits … to get some of those innings where you’re able to put some crooked numbers up.”
Mistakes have also hurt the Rays. The latest example came with one out and one on in what turned out to be a five-run Toronto third inning.
Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, activated from the injured list before the game, had Cavan Biggio’s drive to deep left-center bounce off his glove as he tried for a basket catch. It was scored a double.
The four at-bats that followed were a walk, back-to-back two-run doubles and an RBI double.
“That was a game-changing play,” Kiermaier said of his missed catch. “You win as a team, you lose as a team. But this one, my play out there changed the momentum of that game. Baseball works in mysterious ways. Anytime you give the opposition extra chances, you usually pay for it. And that’s on me.
“If I catch that ball, it’s a runner on second (and) two outs. Completely changes everything instead of second and third with one out, top of their order going up.”
The Rays will start left-hander Shane McClanahan (8-3, 1.77 ERA) and right-hander Drew Rasmussen (5-3, 3.41) on Saturday. Toronto will start right-hander Kevin Gausman (6-6, 2.93) with right-hander Thomas Hatch expected to make his first major league appearance of the season as the second-game starter. Hatch is 4-4 with a 5.12 ERA at Triple-A Buffalo.
McClanahan is 0-1 with a 3.14 ERA in three career starts against the Blue Jays, all last year.
Rasmussen, who is set to return from the injured list after recovering from a left hamstring strain, is 1-0 with a 1.53 ERA in four career outings (three starts) against Toronto. He had a no-decision vs. the Blue Jays on May 13, when he allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings.
Gausman is 7-7 with a 3.99 ERA in 18 career games (16 starts) against Tampa Bay. He lost to the Rays on May 13, when he yielded four runs (three earned) and struck out eight in seven innings.
Hatch is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, against the Rays in four career games (one start), all in 2020.
Toronto’s Lourdes Gurriel Jr. brings a hot bat into the doubleheader. On Friday, he hit his fifth homer of the season, singled, doubled, walked and scored three runs. He is batting .400 (16-for-40) with nine RBIs over his past 11 games.
With a seven-game West Coast road trip following the series against Tampa Bay and no day off, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo gave third baseman Matt Chapman a break on Friday, using him only as a ninth-inning defensive replacement.
“Too many games, everybody is going to get a day,” Montoyo said. “No way you can play that many or somebody’s going to get hurt.”
Before the Friday game, the Rays optioned outfielder Luke Raley and left-hander Ryan Yarbrough to Triple-A Durham, reinstated Kiermaier (left hip inflammation) from the IL and recalled right-hander David McKay from the taxi squad.
McKay allowed four runs in two relief innings on Friday. Kiermaier went 1-for-2 with two walks.
–Field Level Media