Sat, 16 Oct 2021

Rays look to reel in another win vs. Marlins

Field Level Media
26 Sep 2021, 21:19 GMT+10

With just seven games remaining in the regular season, the Tampa Bay Rays know there is still plenty of work ahead ... even after clinching again.

Tampa Bay (96-59) closes its three-game series with a Sunday matinee against the Miami Marlins (64-90) in St. Petersburg, Fla.

With a 7-3 win overMiami on Saturday, the Rays clinched their second straight American League East title -- getting the help they needed earlier when the Boston Red Sox lost to the New York Yankees behind ex-Marlin Giancarlo Stanton's grand slam.

"You look at this division, you might have four teams that win 90-plus games. It's tough," said Erik Neander, the Rays' senior vice president of baseball operations.

Still, now is not the time to let up for the Rays.

The club will begin a three-game series on Tuesday against the Houston Astros, the only team that can keep them from claiming the AL's best record and home-field advantage in the postseason.

Houston (91-64) dropped a 2-1 decision to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, putting the Rays five games ahead in the race for the AL's top spot.

The Astros will close out the A's series tomorrow, host Tampa Bay for three and finish with three at home against Oakland next weekend.

Meanwhile, the Rays will finish the regular season against the Yankees in New York.

Left-hander Ryan Yarbrough said he and his teammates are determined not to let off the gas.

"That's obviously the goal, is to win your division and then continue off and go deep into the playoffs and play for a World Series," Yarbrough said. "I know it's all a cliche. It's something we can't really control.

"But we're just going to try to handle things on our end, and everything will just kind of figure itself out."

Top pitching prospect Shane Baz (1-0, 3.60 ERA) will make his second career start after a solid outing in his major league debut.

Despite surrendering two solo homers -- the Toronto Blue Jays' only hits against the right-hander -- Baz struck out five and did not reach a three-ball count over his five innings pitched in a 6-4 win on Monday.

Baz, 22, retired 15 of the 17 batters he faced in the potent Toronto lineup.

Miami will send another of its prized hurlers -- left-hander Jesus Luzardo (5-8, 7.01) -- to salvage a game in the series in his first career appearance against Tampa Bay.

Acquired from the A's for pending free-agent center fielder Starling Marte, the 23-year-old Luzardo - a South Florida native who attended Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland - owns a mid-90s fastball and an elite curveball but has grappled with his game.

"It's been getting there. It just kind of keeps going," manager Don Mattingly said after the southpaw held the Cincinnati Reds to one hit over six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts on Aug. 29.

"We want to be consistent with the message and get him on track and hopefully get some consistent outings through the end of the year."

Miami has lost 13 of 15 contests in the last three seasons against the Rays, who are 51-29 at home and own a 14-5 mark in interleague play.

--Field Level Media

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