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As Rays head home from ‘frustrating’ trip, guess who is waiting

Notes | Three more games with the Yankees seem sub-optimal given last week’s sweep in New York.
The Rays just saw Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole last Tuesday and now New York will be waiting at the Trop for another three-game series.
The Rays just saw Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole last Tuesday and now New York will be waiting at the Trop for another three-game series. [ BEBETO MATTHEWS | AP ]
Published Jun. 19

BALTIMORE — After a miserable 2-7 showing against the Twins, Yankees and Orioles, the Rays are looking forward to returning to the friendly confines of Tropicana Field.

“It’s been a frustrating road trip,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve got to get back home and find some sort of rhythm.”

One slight problem:

The Yankees, with their MLB-best 49-17 record, pace for 120 wins and their thousands of fans, will be waiting. And fresh off a series sweep at Yankee Stadium.

The Rays take some solace in how well they pitched in those three games, holding the potent pinstripers to just eight runs total and only three earned. The issue was that the Rays scored only four runs.

“Our pitching kept us in those ballgames,” Cash said. “I’d like to think that we can do better offensively. But got to be pleased with the way that we attacked a really potent lineup.”

Rays top starter Shane McClanahan will face the Yankees for the second time in six days (and third in 23) having allowed four runs (one earned) over six innings, with three hits, two walks and seven strikeouts Wednesday.

“I think it’s beneficial for both parties, to be honest with you,” McClanahan said. “I learned a lot of information from a lot of their swings and approaches, and I’m sure they’ve learned the same from me. So I think it’s like it has been the first couple of games this year, it’s going to be a good matchup.”

Cash said there is some mutual benefit to the quick rematches, though he typically thinks the hitters have the greater advantage, which in theory should help the Rays as they’ll be seeing Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes for a second straight time.

“I don’t think (McClanahan) is any different than anybody else; I think that if he goes out there and has his stuff, he’ll give us an opportunity,” he said. “I do feel that it’s generally in favor of the hitter a little bit more. So we have that same component on our side of we’re facing two of the same starters with them.”

Roster changes coming

A new MLB rule goes into effect Monday, with teams limited to carrying 13 pitchers on the 26-man roster. That means the Rays have to drop a reliever, likely either Luke Bard or Ralph Garza Jr., and add a position player, with outfielder Josh Lowe the leading candidate to be called up.

Lowe made the opening day roster but struggled at the plate, hitting .188 with one homer, six RBIs and a .601 OPS, and was sent back to Triple-A May 1. In 36 games for Durham, he hit .299 with six homers, 35 RBIs and a .922 OPS. Adding Lowe back to the outfield mix will mean less playing time for the others and potentially more DH at-bats for Randy Arozarena.

Miscellany

In dropping two of three in Baltimore for the second time in a month, the Rays lost consecutive series to the Orioles for first time since 2017. .. Vidal Brujan had back-to-back two-hit games after getting multiple hits once in his first 31. … Brett Phillips had his first multi-hit game since May 22. … Wander Franco (quad strain) is set for his second Florida Complex League rehab game Monday (7 p.m., Port Charlotte), with Chris Sale slated to start for the Red Sox. If all goes well, Franco will next join Durham for two-three games and could rejoin the Rays this weekend. … Monday’s first pitch will be thrown out by the family of Rick Nafe, a longtime sports facilities executive for the Rays and elsewhere in the Tampa Bay area, who died last month.

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