The Yankees hadn’t lost three consecutive games all season until they visited Tropicana Field over weekend. The Rays hit them with the brooms and got a much-needed sweep in the midst of a brutal stretch on their schedule.
The Rays’ run through the gauntlet began 11 days ago with seven consecutive games on the road against the Yankees and Astros. Then they came home for nine more against World Series contenders. After sweeping the Yankees, Tampa Bay remains with two against Washington and a final four-game set with Houston before it’s through the woods.
The Rays were underdogs in all three of the games last weekend. They’re slight favorites tonight against Gio Gonzalez and the Nationals.
Kevin Cash didn’t use any traditional starting pitchers on Friday and over the weekend, which included a 12-inning finale on Sunday. Eighteen pitchers (10 unique) helped the Rays to three victories. So who is left for Monday?
Sergio Romo threw in all three games against New York so he definitely won’t be available. Matt Andriese and Vidal Nuno each threw a substantial number of pitches on Sunday and won’t be available. Ryan Yarbrough only threw 11 pitches yesterday, which was out of necessity because he threw 65 in Friday’s game. Wilmer Font threw so well on Saturday that he will need Monday off as well.
Chaz Roe should be available, as should Johnny Venters. There’s a chance Diego Castillo could come back after 19 pitches on Sunday and then there’s the guys on the 40-man roster, most notably Austin Pruitt, who will likely dress on Monday.
But Blake Snell will have the ball before any of those other guys and he may keep it for a while. He’s 9–4 in 16 starts with an ERA under 2.50. However, his control, which looked improved in his first 14 starts, has started to erode over his last two. He’s walked 11 in that span, including seven the last time out against Houston, a start he still managed to win.
The Nationals, who use their pitching staff more traditionally, also played extra innings on Sunday Night Baseball, which may hurt them even more because of the timing of the game and because they don’t have the quantity of arms Tampa Bay has.
So while Washington had a late night, Tampa Bay stayed right at home, building confidence after a walk-off win to sweep the Yankees. Don’t underestimate how much of an effect that will have on a young team. The offense has improved vastly since April and with Snell on the hill, the wins should keep on rolling.
Play: Tampa Bay -108