The Rays are back in first place. And back facing the Mariners.
That scenario didn’t work out so well in Seattle last month when the Mariners swept Tampa Bay in a four-game series and the Rays tumbled out of first spot in the American League East.
The three-game series beginning tonight at Tropicana Field will feature a new matchup for Rays hitters. Seattle right-hander Chris Flexen has never faced Tampa Bay.
Flexen has had reverse splits this season, meaning he has been more effective against left-handed hitters. With that in mind, the Rays opted to go ahead and give Austin Meadows and Wander Franco planned days off tonight.
⋅ Manager Kevin Cash said the Rays are hopeful that RHP Chris Archer’s sore hip will be a minor setback.
Archer, who has been on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Durham, left his scheduled start on Sunday after one inning. Archer was getting nearer a return to the Rays roster and the hope is that this might only delay him by a handful of days.
“We’re hoping that it was more minor,” Cash said. “Most likely, just the way we go about doing things, it will probably delay him from being on a five-day start from Sunday. Maybe it doesn’t, but if it does it will be just a little bit.”
⋅ Diego Castillo, who technically leads the Rays in saves with 14, makes his return to Tropicana Field after being traded to the Mariners on Thursday.
“I was a little said when I heard the news I had been traded,” Castillo said through interpreter Manny Navarro on the field Monday. “I feel very fortunate for the opportunity they gave me here.”
⋅ Rays prospect Shane Baz had a shaky Olympic debut in Monday’s 7-6 loss to Japan.
Baz, 22, started for the USA and gave up five hits, three walks and two runs in 2.2 innings. The U.S. was losing 2-0 when he left the game in third, but took the lead in the fourth before losing in 10 innnigs.
The control problems were unusual for Baz who has a 2.26 ERA and 82 strikeouts with only 10 walks in 55.2 innings of work between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham this season.
Here’s the Rays lineup with Michael Wacha on the mound:
Brandon Lowe 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Ji-Man Choi 1B
Yandy Diaz 3B
Joey Wendle SS
Randy Arozarena LF
Manuel Margot RF
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Mike Zunino C
And here is Seattle’s lineup:
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