The Tampa Bay Rays sit atop the American League East thanks largely to their penchant for finding ways to win close games.
The Rays cashed in on two errors and delivered timely hits again Sunday to score all seven of their runs in the eighth and ninth innings in a 7-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.
Tampa Bay returns home Tuesday night to host the Washington Nationals, starting a two-game series and five-game homestand. The Rays’ 38-23 record is the best in the American League, and just four percentage points behind the San Francisco Giants’ best record in baseball (37-22).
“Probably some of the experience from the past, being a little more seasoned in that high intensity, anxiety moment, they’ve got a knack for putting pressure and coming through,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “It certainly feels like we are in every ballgame, and we can elevate our game a little bit when it gets later in the game.”
On Sunday, rookie shortstop Taylor Walls hit the go-ahead, two-run double in the eighth as one of his season-high three hits including two doubles.
“I really trust my approach,” Walls said. “I feel like I do my homework and I have the right read on guys.”
The Rays, who have won 19 of their past 23 games overall, and eight of their past nine at Tropicana Field. They are second in the league in runs scored, but just sixth in home runs.
Tyler Glasnow (4-2, 2.69 ERA) will start on Tuesday after the Rays gave him an extra two days of rest. The 27-year-old right-hander, who has already pitched 77 innings in 12 starts this season, will oppose Nationals veteran lefty Jon Lester (0-2, 4.37 ERA).
Glasnow pitched seven innings and threw 100 pitches, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out eight on June 1 against the Yankees. He is 1-0 with a 7.53 ERA in 14 1/3 career innings (five games, two starts) against the Nationals.
Lester is 13-11 with a 4.47 ERA in 30 career starts against the Rays, but he hasn’t faced them since 2017.
Lester pitched his second-longest outing this season last Wednesday in Atlanta and had no restrictions despite starting on three days’ rest. Lester allowed one run on five hits and two walks and struck out three over 5 2/3 innings.
“I said, ‘Hey, if we’re going to do this, I don’t want to be on a pitch count,'” Lester said on Wednesday. “I just wanted it to be a normal start.”
The Nationals are closing out a nine-game road trip and have won just three of their past 11 games.
Right-hander Austin Voth was hit by a pitch from Phillies starter Vince Velasquez during Sunday’s 12-6 loss while squaring to bunt. Voth exited with a towel covering a gash across the inside of his nose after the ball appeared to deflect off the bill of his batting helmet. He spent the night in a Philadelphia hospital.
“He won’t be able to do anything for a few days,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “Then, they’ll re-evaluate. We’ll see how he is tomorrow. It was really scary. I almost fell over a seat on the bench just to get out there.”
According to Martinez, Nationals catcher Yan Gomes might be back Tuesday after missing the past four games due to hamstring tightness. Eric Fedde, who threw five innings Saturday in a Class-A rehab outing, is expected to start next week for Stephen Strasburg (neck strain).
–Field Level Media