ST. PETERSBURG — Rays designated hitter Harold Ramirez thinks it’s time to stop worrying about matchups.
This week, best-in-baseball Tampa Bay, sitting atop the American League East, faces the AL’s two other division leaders. After the Rays swept the Central-leading Twins in three games, Ramirez isn’t too hyped up about taking on the front-running Rangers from the West.
The teams open a three-game series Friday night at Tropicana Field.
“They are a good team, yes,” Ramirez said after Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Twins. “But I think we don’t have to worry about them. We are a good team, too. We just have to worry about ourselves. If we do what we’ve been doing, I think we’ll be OK.”
The Rays enter their second straight series against a possible playoff opponent having won six straight games. The Rangers have the second-best record (40-21) behind Tampa Bay. Texas has the best offense in the big leagues, averaging more than six runs per game, and the second-best rotation (3.13 ERA), also behind the Rays (2.94).
“They’re good, and no denying it,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “You can see the runs that they’re putting up. The pitching has been really good. They made some good offseason moves. Obviously, (Rangers manager) Bruce Bochy, that’s a pretty good one.
“But (Marcus) Semien at the top is having a tremendous season. We know Nate (Lowe), who’s a very good hitter, (Corey) Seager’s back and healthy. So, a very, very dangerous team that it should be a fun series.”
Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow, who will start Friday night, said it will be a challenge facing that high-powered lineup.
“Really talented. They made a lot of good offseason signings a year or two ago,” Glasnow said. “But they’ve got great pitching and great hitters. I know a few of them. They’re a solid team.”
But Glasnow agreed with Ramirez that it’s too early to worry about possible matchups.
“I think three or four games is not like a great measurement,” Glasnow said. “But I guess, like, in the short run, I like kind of knowing where you stack up. That’s cool.”
Over his first 101 major-league games, Luke Raley never hit a triple. In his last three, he has two.
“If I keep hitting it down that rightfield line, I have a chance,” Raley said, “but I don’t know if that’s going to be sustained.”
What is sustainable, however, is Raley’s hot start to the season.
He has reached base safely in 22 of his last 25 games with a plate appearance. He is hitting .353 with two doubles, four homers, nine RBIs, seven stolen bases and, of course, two triples during that span.
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Another day for Diaz
Yandy Diaz has been out of the lineup for the past two days because of a left hip issue. The 31-year old slugger said it is the same pain he dealt with earlier in the season, but he expects to be ready to play Friday.
“I’ve been doing treatment and I’ve still been hitting,” he said, “and I’ll be ready to go when they need me at any moment.”
The first baseman entered Thursday ranked second in the majors in OPS (.976), behind only Aaron Judge of the Yankees. He has hit for both average (.316) and power, with 12 home runs.
The Nationals claimed left-handed pitcher Joe La Sorsa off waivers Thursday. The Rays designated him for assignment last week. … As expected, right-hander Cooper Criswell was optioned to Triple A to make room on the roster for Chirinos. … The sweep of the Twins was the Rays’ first against Minnesota since April 20-22, 2018 at the Trop. … The Rays have stolen a franchise-record 33 consecutive bases without being caught dating back to May 22.
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