The Tampa Bay Rays’ juggernaut offense has been record-setting in August and hopes to keep the line moving Tuesday.
The Rays will host the Baltimore Orioles in the second game of their four-game series in St. Petersburg — the 14th meeting between the American League East foes this season — in a matchup between first- and last-place clubs.
Monday night’s 9-2 victory over Baltimore in the series opener marked the eighth time in 10 games Tampa Bay has tallied at least eight runs.
In a hot streak over seven straight road games from Aug. 6-13, the Rays scored eight or more in every contest, including a 20-8 loss in Boston last Wednesday.
According to StatsByStats, they became the third team in the modern era to score eight or more runs in seven consecutive games on a single road trip. The other two were the 1929 New York Yankees (seven straight) and 1930 Philadelphia A’s (nine straight).
After two losses in Minnesota to end the road trip, the offense was back at it Monday.
Rays batters crushed five home runs, including two by Brandon Lowe and an inside-the-park homer by Brett Phillips, to get back on track.
“We’re putting up eight runs, nine runs, 10 runs, seven runs. Whatever it is, we’re putting up a lot of runs,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash during the stretch. “When you’re doing that, it takes more than one guy. Just a bunch of guys that are really hitting the ball hard. And a lot of them are leaving the ballpark.”
Tuesday’s contest sets up as a bullpen game for the Rays, who own one of the best relief corps in baseball.
Drew Rasmussen (1-1, 3.98 ERA) will start, look to get 50 pitches and then would likely turn it over to the club’s stout stable of relievers.
Rasmussen is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two career relief appearances against the Orioles. He has totaled just 4 1/3 innings against them and allowed five hits.
Tampa Bay added to the bullpen Monday by signing right-hander David Robertson, a member of Team USA’s silver medal-winning team in the Olympics in Tokyo.
Robertson will go to Triple-A Durham first but should be pitching for the Rays soon.
After 12 straight losses, the Orioles would just like to get a victory to perhaps get some momentum — and their best two chances are coming up in the rotation Tuesday and Wednesday.
Baltimore skipper Brandon Hyde will give the ball to left-hander John Means in Tuesday’s affair and follow that up Wednesday by sending out righty Spenser Watkins.
Means is Hyde’s ace. Watkins’ claim to fame in 2021? He was the winning pitcher in Baltimore’s lone win in 13 outings against the first-place Rays.
The Orioles are 1-13 in August, second only to the Chicago Cubs’ abysmal 1-14 mark.
“I think we’re handling it the best we possibly can, to be honest with you,” Hyde said of the losing streak. “We’re just not executing, and we make bad pitches during bad times, and we’re trying too hard at the plate in big moments.”
Tampa Bay is only 26-21 against left-handed starting pitching, which bodes well for Means (5-4, 3.21).
In eight career games against the Rays — seven starts — Means is 3-2 with a 4.09 ERA. Their hitters are batting .244 against the 28-year-old Olathe, Kan., native.
–Field Level Media