When the Citrus Series is rekindled Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, Fla., the Tampa Bay Rays will be looking to maintain a recent trend against the in-state rival Miami Marlins.
Behind impressive teams over the last three seasons, the Rays have built their overall advantage to 71-58 since starting interleague play against the then-Florida Marlins in 1998.
Including the final meeting against Miami in 2018, a 6-4 Rays win on July 22, Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash's club has won 15 of 17 matchups against the Marlins, including three straight in the series.
After losing two of three games against the Orioles in Baltimore over the weekend, the Rays are closely monitoring the health of second-year shortstop Wander Franco.
The 21-year-old Franco isn't having the kind of season he did in 2021 when he finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting -- a campaign highlighted by Franco reaching base in 43 straight games, which tied a major league record for players under 21.
"Right now it's the quad; it's gone back and forth, and it's kind of cycled through each leg," Cash said. "Every part of both legs has bothered him."
Neither Franco nor Yandy Diaz (left shoulder strain) appeared in Sunday's lineup, and the team placed All-Star reliever Andrew Kittredge (back) on the injured list before the series finale.
Like his counterpart in Cash, Miami skipper Don Mattingly is having to battle team injuries, primarily around the horn on the infield.
Fighting a calf injury all month, shortstop Miguel Rojas left Saturday night's game and didn't play in Sunday's 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves, the Marlins' only win in the three-game series.
Leadoff hitter Jazz Chisholm Jr. was spiked Saturday night but played the next day. However, he was removed Sunday with left hamstring tightness.
Fellow infielders Joey Wendle (right hamstring strain) and Jon Berti (COVID-19) are also out. They will likely play in a rehab assignment and miss the two-game series.
While the Marlins sit four games under .500 in the National League East, their overall record would be just 13-21 if their 5-1 mark against the last-place Washington Nationals were omitted.
With all the team has endured, Mattingly was delighted to see starter Sandy Alcantara toss his fourth career complete game in Sunday's win.
"We got what we needed today," Mattingly said. "We were able to get some hits to move runners and move some guys across. It was good to get those."
Pablo Lopez (4-1, 1.57 ERA) has been Miami's ace through eight starts. He is 1-2 with a 3.27 ERA in four career starts against the Rays, who have hit only .188 with two homers in 22 innings against the Venezuelan right-hander.
Cash will send out Shane McClanahan (3-2, 2.33), who has made one career start against the Marlins. The left-hander earned the final victory of his 10-6 rookie campaign by allowing just one run -- a solo homer by Rojas -- in five innings in the Rays' 7-3 home triumph on Sept. 25, 2021.
--Field Level Media