The Miami Marlins turned to a trio of former Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night to break their losing streak against the American League East-leading club.
Now they have a chance to win the series against the American League’s top team when they meet Sunday.
Jesus Aguilar, Corey Dickerson and Matt Joyce — all ex-Rays — combined to go 3-for-7 with a homer, four runs, four RBIs and three walks in Miami’s 7-3 win in St. Petersburg.
The win by Miami (17-17) snapped its nine-game losing streak against the Rays that dated back to July of 2018 and helped them keep pace with the rest of the National League in the race for the playoffs.
Dickerson’s contribution — the homer — was the big highlight, but Marlins manager Don Mattingly admired the approach of Joyce, who came off the bench when Harold Ramirez was carted off the field with a hamstring injury.
In his only at-bat, Joyce singled in two big runs in the seventh to push the lead to 7-1 for Miami, which had to hold on in the ninth as the Rays (27-13) made a late bid for a comeback victory.
“I like those runs, for sure, but Matt’s always ready,” said Mattingly of Joyce, 36, who spent six seasons with Tampa Bay. “He always prepared and always ready for every situation.”
The clubs’ last regular-season meeting is Sunday in a matinee game at Tropicana Field, and Mattingly will send out rookie Trevor Rogers (1-0, 2.00 ERA) to make his third career start in the series finale.
Rogers, 22, has been a top 10 prospect (ranked No. 9 in Miami’s pool by MLB.com) and made a steady climb through the farm system after being selected in the first round (13th overall) of the 2017 draft.
In 40 career minor league starts, Rogers baffled opposing hitters by striking out 10.1 per nine innings and issuing just 2.6 walks. He has continued to fan batters in his two big-league starts — both against the New York Mets — by whiffing 11 over a total of nine innings.
With starters Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith and Jose Urena sidelined on the injured list, Miami promoted the 6-foot-6 Rogers for his debut when it was faced with playing a second doubleheader in three days on Aug. 25.
Tampa Bay skipper Kevin Cash watched his squad produce just four hits over the first eight innings before backup catcher Michael Perez (3-for-4, double, 3 RBIs) singled in two runs to close the gap in the ninth.
Brandon Kintzler got a groundout from the first batter he faced as the Rays lost for just the second time in 10 games.
Cash gave the credit to his offense’s quiet night to Alcantara, who struck out eight and allowed one run on three hits in six innings. The Rays rocked him in a 12-7 win at Marlins Park last Sunday.
“That was due in large part because Alcantara was so good,” said Cash. “They have some talented starting pitchers. We haven’t faced (Rogers) yet, but between (Sixto) Sanchez, (Pablo Lopez) and Alcantara … very talented.”
Hard-throwing Tyler Glasnow (2-1, 4.24 ERA) will make his second career start against Miami. The right-hander’s lone start was on June 9, 2017, as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he took the loss after giving up 10 hits and seven runs (six earned) in four innings.
Cash added that lefty starter Ryan Yarbrough (0-2, 3.65 ERA) tossed a bullpen Friday and said his next work could be in a game. Yarbrough (left groin tightness) is eligible to come off the injured list Tuesday and could face the Nationals in Washington or the Red Sox in Boston on Thursday.
–Field Level Media