The second half of the season gets started for the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend with six straight home games. Tampa returns from the MLB All-Star Break to host the in-state rival Florida Marlins for three games before welcoming the New York Yankees for a three-game set.
Marlins vs. Rays
Game 1: Friday, July 20 – 7:10 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, July 21 – 6:10 p.m.
Game 3: Sunday, July 22 – 1:10 p.m.
Yankees vs. Rays
Game 1: Monday, July 23 – 7:10 p.m.
Game 2: Tuesday, July 24 – 7:10 p.m.
Game 3: Wednesday, July 25 – 1:10 p.m.
A look back
The Rays finished the first half of the season winners in six of their final 10 games before the MLB All-Star Break. Not expected to put up much of a fight after casting off some of their most productive players in the offseason, the Rays have to be considered one of the surprises of the first half of the baseball season. Tampa heads into the second half of the year with a 49-47 record. That performance won’t be enough to catch the Red Sox or Yankees in the American League East, but the team does have an outside shot at making a run at the second wild card spot in the American League. It will take some effort though, as the Rays are 8.5 games behind Seattle for that spot.
Snell Hurls Three Strikeouts in All-Star Game
After giving up the American League’s first run of the game, Rays All-Star Blake Snell struck out the next three batters he faced in Tuesday night’s MLB All-Star Game. Included among those strikeouts was Bryce Harper, winner of this year’s Home Run Derby.
Snell’s first All-Star Game appearance didn’t begin as planned after he surrendered a home run to Wilson Contreras on the first pitch he threw.
Snell came into the game in the bottom of the third inning and threw 1 2/3 innings of relief. He threw 39 pitches in the game, striking out three National League hitters and walking two.
A look at the series
The Marlins went through a highly-publicized offseason under its new ownership group, which includes former Yankee great Derek Jeter. The team’s mass selloff landed the Marlins plenty of prospects but unlike the Rays, the young talent on the Marlin’s roster hasn’t produced a lot of wins this season.
Florida comes into its series with Tampa 13.5 games back in the National League East with a record of 41-57. The Marlins did manage to take two of three games from the Rays when the clubs met earlier this month.
Tampa’s last series with the Yankees went much better than that early July matchup with the Marlins. The Rays swept the Yankees in that three-game set at Tropicana Field in late June, yielding only seven runs in the series. Right hander Wilmer Font along with four Ray’s relievers highlighted that series with a four-hit shutout to capture game two against the Yankees 4-0. A 7-6 win the following day was the fourth in a row for the Rays against New York and brought the team’s record against the Yankees to 4-5 on the season.
The pitching staff will likely be heavily relied upon again against the Yankees if the Rays hope to come out with a series win. Tampa’s pitching staff leads the American League in home ERA this season, allowing 2.89 earned runs per nine innings, while holding opponents to a .207 batting average. The Rays staff has also surrendered the fewest home runs to opposing hitters this season, surrendering only 36 long balls. Oakland is the next closest team in that department, having given up 48 home runs to its opponents this year.
For the fans
Friday: $7.11 for upper deck tickets presented by 7-11
Saturday: All fans in attendance will receive a DJ Kitty Mascot Head* presented by State Farm
Sunday: All fans 14 and younger will receive a beach tank top* presented by Tradewinds Island Resort
Tuesday: $2 Kids Tuesdays presented by Morgan Auto Group
Wednesday: Senior Special Wednesdays presented by Duke Energy
*While supplies last
Can’t make it to the games?
You can watch the Rays on Fox Sports Sun or listen on WDAE 620 AM/95.3 FM.
By Shawn LaFata photos from the Tampa Bay Rays
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