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Red-hot Rays take on the league’s second-best team next

Tampa Bay heads to Chicago to face the White Sox, who are managed by Tampa native Tony La Russa.
Manuel Margot, right, celebrates Randy Arozarena's grand slam during the seventh inning. The Rays swept the Orioles to maintain the best record in MLB and now move on to face the league's other hot team, the White Sox.
Manuel Margot, right, celebrates Randy Arozarena's grand slam during the seventh inning. The Rays swept the Orioles to maintain the best record in MLB and now move on to face the league's other hot team, the White Sox. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]
Published Jun. 13
Updated Jun. 14

ST. PETERSBURG — Following Sunday afternoon’s 7-1 victory against the Orioles at Tropicana Field, the Rays maintained baseball’s best record.

Monday night in Chicago, the Rays (42-24) will open a three-game series against the White Sox (41-24), who have baseball’s second-best record.

“They’re a talented team,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “You kind of saw it coming the last couple of seasons. We saw the youth they had and the prospects coming up. Now those guys have evolved and they’re playing well. It should be a fun series.”

The Rays haven’t faced the White Sox since July 21, 2019, at Tropicana Field and swept a three-game series earlier that season in Chicago. In fact, the Rays have taken five of their last six road games against the White Sox.

The White Sox are now managed by Hall of Fame Tony La Russa, 76, the Tampa native who returned to the dugout after retiring from the Cardinals, where he won his third career World Series championship in 2011.

“It will be a good series for sure,” said Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow, who starts Monday night. “It’s always nice to play teams on a roll. Clearly, we are (on a roll).”

Glasnow praises defense

You can count Glasnow among the Rays pitchers who appreciates the team’s defensive play. The Rays, who have baseball’s best fielding percentage, consistently showcase their run-saving abilities in the infield and outfield.

“When you’re behind in the count, you know if you give up contact, there’s a good chance it’s going to be an out,” Glasnow said. “It’s a great feeling. The rate (by which) they do not make errors is very impressive. We do have incredible athletes and our front office puts a big focus on defense. It’s very important and that shows (in the Rays’ approach).”

Walls is solid

Taylor Walls steals second base in the third inning Sunday against the Orioles.
Taylor Walls steals second base in the third inning Sunday against the Orioles. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]

Rays rookie shortstop Taylor Walls (3-for-4) tied a career high for hits and knocked in the go-ahead runs in the fourth inning.

“That’s what he has done since he has been here,” Cash said. “He has played really, really good baseball on both sides of the ball. He does a lot of things to help you win. Today, it was with the bat. Every day, it’s with the glove.”

Miscellany

First baseman Ji-Man Choi, on the 10-day injured list with a left groin strain, is on the road trip and could be activated as soon as Monday. … With the Red Sox losing Sunday, the Rays have a three-game lead in the AL East. … It was the Rays’ seventh sweep this season. The franchise’s single-season record for sweeps is 12. … The Rays are 6-0 against the Orioles this season, outscoring them 48-21. … The Rays’ bullpen lowered its AL-best ERA to 3.05, including a 1.59 ERA in 17 games since May 25. … Left-hander Josh Fleming recorded his 11th career win in his 18th appearance, passing Rolando Arrojo (10) for the franchise’s most wins through 18 appearances. … Randy Arozarena hit the Rays’ third grand slam this season, joining Francisco Mejia and Joey Wendle, who had May slams against the Blue Jays three days apart in Dunedin.

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